One thing I do while preparing for my annual Technology Future Trends in my New Technology course, is to look at technology that is dying. Of course technology never actually dies. As Hedy Lamarr said, “Technology is forever”, but at some point one technology starts to be replaced by another technology and drops out of the mainstream. When exploring technological trends, observing such transformations is one of the ways to see changes and potential disruptions to businesses and industries.
So here is my current Technology Death List:
CD-ROM: This can apply to DVDs as well. It’s important to understand that the CD is a content distribution technology. It is not the content. People sometime confuse this technology with music which is far from dying. The trend here is that CDs and DVDs are being replaced by on-line distribution. The problem for the music industry is that the payment is associated with the content distribution method. This is causing disruption in the industry. So if anybody wondered why there are no lines at the stores for buying Blu-Ray players, we must realize that using plastic discs to distribute content is competing with on-line Internet content distribution.
Hard-disk: This is not obvious but we might see Solid State Memory replace mechanical hard disks. SSMs are approaching the same price range and if they are much faster, smaller and potentially cheaper we will see them become de facto in devices. This has an interesting implication in architecture and design of software programs as many design patterns are designed around latencies in disk access. Another point is that with faster SSM fewer disks are needed in a systems with high throughput requirements.
Adapters: Image you could by a phone with batteries that can last for months or years. It might be sometime for this but in the meanwhile, charging wirelessly will likely take of leaving the stupid adapter useless.
Newspapers: Delivering news on dead trees seems to have problems. There are many news on troubled newspapers. Subscription is going down as people are turning to the Internet for news and articles. At the same time, devices like Kindle and the Sony reader seem to be picking up.
Closed model Cell Phones: Cell phones are going though a disruptive phase. The trend is that cell phone are becoming more like a small PC. This is very much in line with the Moore’s law. According to antoher law, Metcalfe’s law, these devices will connect to the same network, the Internet. Whatever the technology used to carry voice or data, it will be IP based. All these changes will cause disruption for the phone companies and it migth be difficult for them to keep metering charges for voice and messaging.