Rick Vergara has been with RadioShack for about three years. Previous positions include merchandising roles with both GameStop and Circuit City. He has an MBA from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona and lives in Fort Worth with his wife, Stephanie and their two children.
The Shack Blog: As a busy exec in the tech retail world, what’s your go-to device for work, besides your phone?
Rick Vergara: I keep a variety of charging devices in multiple places to ensure my phone stays charged. I have a portable Enercell battery that plugs directly into my iPhone on the “heavy use” days and can recharge it completely in about an hour. Very useful on the road or in meetings if
I can’t get to a wall plug.
TSB: What about for fun? Are you a big gamer?
Vergara: Big-time gamer. I am a console guy by nature (Team Swat on Halo Reach, anyone?), but excited about the improvements in portable gaming. Right now, I’m re-living Dragon’s Lair on my iPad while I wait for the
TSB: Top app on your phone – go!
Vergara: Embarrassed to say it, but WeatherBug Elite. I can predict rain within 5 minutes of its actual occurrence. I’m like the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
TSB: Over the last five years, what do you consider to be the greatest technological innovation?
Vergara: Happy to see that RISC architecture is finally getting the respect it deserves on the consumer side in phones and tablets. Lower power requirements and almost instant boot times are as close as I’ll get to my grandmother’s greatest technological innovation, which she claimed was indoor plumbing!
TSB: What are some of the coolest products you’re looking forward to this year?
Vergara: Nintendo 3DS and Sony’s NGP look amazing. 4G wireless Internet will be rolled out to more cities this year, which means more 4G phones to support it! I’m also waiting for more Android desserts, but Honeycomb specifically as it defines the Google tablet experience. And I’m certain Apple will update at least one of their devices this year. That’s my bravest prediction yet.
TSB: Do you think smartphones will keep getting smarter, or at some point will they eventually hit a peak?
Vergara: Moore’s law is alive and well. Motorola’s dual core Atrix 4G handset will lead the way this year, but expect dual-core to become quad core and beyond. The question isn’t if they’ll become more powerful (they will) its what new ways will developers come up with to use them. I remember when having a pager was breakthrough technology. I can’t believe I can watch Avatar on my phone now.
TSB: What’s your take on the tablet craze?
Vergara: They definitely don’t replace notebooks in all that they do, but are a wonderful way to consume media. I have found years of pictures that were previously trapped on my hard drive. Also, to take something with that much power and ability and give it an interface that anyone can use is exciting. I am constantly amazed at how people are using them, from laying out story boards for major motion pictures to scoring a Little League game and tracking stats like they were pros. I had no idea what my RISP batting average was when I was 9, but I know my son’s thanks to my iPad.
TSB: Can you give us a tease about any new products coming to The Shack this year?
Vergara: At CES, we announced our new Enercell wireless charging solution coming for iPhone, iPod touch and a variety of Android phones. We’re using a 1-amp charging circuit, which makes them the equivalent of a rapid charger. Great-looking charging pads and cases. We have a 500GB, USB 3.0 portable hard drive coming from Iomega and part of the proceeds will go to LIVESTRONG to support their fight against cancer. We are also working on an indoor TV antenna that looks great and outperforms any other indoor antenna in the market today. It’ll look great in your living room next to your HDTV and make that TV in your garage look great as well!
TSB: Do you have any trend predictions for beyond 2011?
Vergara: There will be more options to free your media content from your PC as home networking becomes cheaper and easier and TVs become more Internet friendly. Phones, tablets, notebooks and TVs will all become more interconnected as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth make their way into more products. LED lighting will become increasingly common in devices, which I love because of its long life and efficiency. Paying with your phone will also come to life as NFC finds its way into more phones. I can’t wait to be able to split my lunch bill using just my phone and quit subsidizing my coworkers’ salmon!
TSB: How do you feel about the “always-on” society we live in today? Do people want more, or less?
Vergara: Finding time to be together is becoming more difficult. Anytime I can get everyone at the dinner table, I don’t want to be interrupted. Those are the times I want “always on” to be dialed back. At the same time, as families and relatives are increasingly separated by distance, it’s comforting to see the occasional picture or text message about what they are up to. It helps close that distance gap and makes you feel like you are with them at that moment. So, I do think that we are looking for more balance now. People have to stop texting in cars,` though. I know it’s difficult, but that email can wait until you stop. It’s not worth wrapping your car around a telephone pole.
TSB: Is there an overall philosophy or goal you stick to when looking for new products?
Vergara: I always try to view products through a consumer’s eyes and to me, the interface is the single most important element of any product. I want my customers to be able to use the product when they get home. If it’s difficult to install or use, doesn’t fit right or meet reasonable expectations, it is a disappointing experience. We’ll go through dozens of products before we bring one into the store. Great editing can make a story great by cutting out all of the slow or irrelevant parts. I like to think of us as great editors when it comes to new products.
TSB: What’s the best part of your job, and what keeps you up at night?
Vergara: I work in an amazing industry and being able to see consumer electronic products before they come to market is exciting. When a vendor or supplier introduces you to an exciting technology, it’s like opening a present and getting just what you wanted. I get to open presents every day. Some are good, some not so much, but the anticipation is always there.