Photo by djoheninde
Two very different events in two very different places this week are worth watching for what they tell us about the future and its emerging design requirements: the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which kicks off this coming weekend, and the New Delhi Auto Show, which opened already this week in India's capital.
Leaks and previews ahead of CES suggest what we forecasted in private last summer: a plethora of small, light, energy conserving, utilitarian devices to against the usual focus on power, size, reach and volume. Netbooks, smartbooks, tablets, hybrids, mobiles and other devices based on open platforms and/or efficient processors and sufficient storage are the theme this year. While there is still plenty for the early adopter fanbois to get excited about, there is a noticeable shift to more affordable. some might say more democratic, devices.
Meanwhile, accelerating a theme that has emerged in recent global auto shows, but enhancing it for India's unique needs (growing demand, cramped infrastructure, lower per capita incomes), small, simple, efficient and useful have been the watchwords in New Delhi. Tata of course had more to say about its revolutionary Nano, including plans to make an electric version, and Honda, Toyota and VW have led the early announcements with compact vehicles designed for the country's new motoring classes.
All of this effort in design, innovation, manufacturing and marketing isn't simply to support a short-term fad. While markets such as the US have been ramping "down" to add smaller cars and computers to product line-ups, emerging markets such as India are ramping up into these product lines as a future core offering—they know the way to reach the mass market is to accommodate this need for small, and by gaining scale and the related economies needed to succeed, these "small" innovations will increasingly port to more advanced markets. In the US, we look at small as our second or third option—something for when there is still space left to fill, and money to burn. Not so the rest of the world, where innovating small is the way out—and up.