Windows & Window Blinds
What happens when technology is good enough?
[PCs] remain essential to our functioning, and despite the advent of tablets and smartphones, PCs have resolutely hung on as our work device of choice. What has declined, however is their sales. Since 2010?—?the peak year for computer sales?—?rates have gradually eased. They are occasionally boosted by increased adoptions in emerging economies, but on the whole, rates have settled into an apparent permanent stagnation.
At first glance, this seems surprising, given that computers are 1) more central to our lives than ever, and 2) surely increasing their penetration as computer illiterate generations die off and “digital natives” come of age. However, those cannot offset the withering of the most important driver of the industry: upgrades.
People are holding on to their computers for longer. It’s not a coincidence that this is happening now. In (roughly) 2010 a crucial barrier was passed—for the first time ever, the available hardware adequately matched the tasks that were asked of it. Computers booted up with minimal fuss. They opened and saved documents instantly, and crashed increasingly rarely. Internet-based programs went from tolerably slow to satisfyingly quick. And the tag team of USB drives and good Wifi seemingly put an end to the search for better port technology.
In short, computers had become good enough.
I wrote on this a bit the other day, sort of. But if phones are settling in, PCs are settled. The last four versions of Microsoft Windows all have roughly the same hardware specs. And as with the phones, the main liability with getting a computer that’s a few years old is hardware failure rather than innovation. Like with cars, where we seen only incremental improvements over the last decades while we wait for them to be able to drive themselves.
The piece itself is on the similarities of the future to now, and I think it still holds. Self-driving cars will probably look a lot like regular car (as opposed to Jetsons flying cars and such). The next innovation for smartphones will be unnoticeable from the outside: Batteries that can run all day without question.
In the end, we’re all just waiting for Google Glass to pan out, aren’t we?