Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Modesty?

Philips makes an Eco TV. It has all the performance bells and whistles of less eco models. It's no more expensive than other gigantic HDTVs. It's ROHS compliant, so it makes the magic happen without (or with a lot less of) those nasty heavy metals. It's intelligent enough to be more energy efficient than other TVs. And, as a little cherry on top, it's packaging and instruction manual are made from recycled materials.

The Consumer Electronics Association gave it an award back in January, but I just read about it yesterday when Triple Pundit pointed out that Philips isn't marketing it. The Eco TV is up on the Philips site, but I challenge anyone to pick it out of this lineup and find the description of the power saving features on the spec page. I admit that I haven't been out TV shopping, so I realize it's possible that Philips does a better job differentiating the Eco TV when its on display in a store. But, still, this is weird.

Philips has put serious time and effort into building something innovative. They've made a significant investment. But they're not telling the story. They're not pushing to convince anyone that what they've accomplished is important.

I wonder why. Why would a company innovate and not promote the innovation?

Does it have something to do with it being an eco innovation?

Has the pre-launch market research shown that people don't care TV econess?

But then why would Philips have invested in the project in the first place?

Is Philips afraid that their Eco TV will compete with their Non-Eco TVs? Maybe the profit margin on the Eco TV is meaningfully smaller than the margins on other models?

Again, why invest in the research, development, and production if the numbers don't work?

Or maybe econess has nothing to do with it.

Maybe the TV simply isn't as fantastically exciting as everyone had hoped, and maybe there are conflicts at Philips that have led to a strange middle path compromise. Happened to us at LanguageCalls. Some of us thought our product wasn't ready for market. Some of us wanted to give it a whirl. So we sort of threw it out there and sort of marketed it and then argued a lot about whether the product could live up to the story sales and marketing was telling. It was far from the right way to handle the disagreement, but maybe the fact that we drifted down such an indecisive path means that Phillips is capable of similarly strange behavior.

I hope no one's capable of being as dopey as we were, but who knows. People (and companies) surprise both with brilliance and idiocy.

Regardless, it's a bummer. I wish Philips was trying to tell people why it's important to buy Eco TVs. The educational reach of such marketing likely wouldn't be impressive, for we are talking about an extremely expensive luxury item, but, still, every little bit of consumer enlightenment counts. We should know about the choices we have. We should know about the Eco TV. We should know the technology exists. And we should make our purchasing decisions accordingly.

If the Eco TV is a good product and meaningfully eco, then you'd think Philips would have a lot to gain from educating us. You'd think.

Maybe the education is coming. It is early yet. I'll be keeping an eye out.

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