WOA 50th ANNIVERSARY -- Web's Balancing Act
Trying to make predictions about the state of affairs 50 years out probably is shear folly, but it's hard to resist speculating about the shape of the industry when the WOA's 100th anniversary rolls around. How will things have changed?
Aside from the fact that "none of us are likely to still be around," Stillo notes humorously, he predicts that in another 50 years the biggest change probably will be that "we won't be printing with equipment, paper and ink as we are today. The printed image will survive, but how it is produced will go through a process of evolution, and at a faster pace than the changes of the last 50 years."
In the intervening years, Field expects the reproduction of print to be enhanced through the adoption of stochastic printing coupled with a move beyond process color to six-plus color systems, such as Pantone Hexachrome.
"Also, the process will be used to produce small runs targeted to individuals. It will have a look that exceeds 'high-definition TV' and it will be delivered by our 'Friendly Federal Express Carrier' seven days a week as many times a day as needed," he says.
Frick believes long-range planning is like a chess game. "It's critical to be able to see two or three moves ahead, and if you can see four or five moves ahead, you have an advantage over most competitors," he explains. While that still only means looking three to five years out, he gamely takes a stab at the 50-year horizon.
"Consolidation is going to continue over the next five- to 10-year period," Frick predicts. "Much of the undifferentiated middle market will be gone in 10 to 20 years. Ultimately, there will be a smaller group of giant, publicly held companies at the top and an ongoing group of smaller, boutique, niche players.