Sunday, March 1, 2015

How to figure out if a new technology will succeed

Technology is a word that describes something that doesn't work yet” Douglas Adams, ( ).
“I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Eric Zorn asked a while back: "Any predictions about what other highly touted devices will be at least short term busts?"

This prompted me to try and come up with a litmus test to evaluate when a technology might fail or succeed.  It seems that when something cannot earn a passing grade in the majority of these criteria:

  • Ratio of Features to user friendliness; 
  • Ability to improve upon/supplement or supplant an existing technology, or compete with a vertical technology; 
  • start up/adoption cost;
  •  compatibility/technical limitations; 
  • infrastructure support.
For instance the HDMI cable replaced the clumsy old DVI and S-video cables.

HDMI cable
  • plug n play allows you to reduce cable clutter;
  • the cost is negligible, unless you're dumb enough to pay $30 for gold platted;
  • TVs and even computers are being made with more and more of these.

Electric Car
burn less fossil fuel
electric cars are still way too expensive expensive
while any outlet will do, a special outlet/adapter allows your car to charge faster. also the battery life and maximum velocity attainable aren't quite there yet.
which brings us to infrastructure: there are not enough charging stations

"Electric cars will not take a large share of the market until two, perhaps three, items are resolved: the range on one battery charge with the attendant recharging time, and the tendency of batteries to lose capacity in cold weather. Until then, they will be urban runabouts, the passenger car equivalent of vocational trucks that always come back home to roost at night, and short-range commuters. Expensive ones, at that."  -daveB

3D TV floundering is a case of the pace of technology exceeding the public's willingness to pay. We've just had the analog TV to digital conversion, HD, and flat screens are finally as thin as the Jetson's promised. People are not gonna scrap all that and buy 3-D TV's, especially with the klunkie glasses you've gotta wear.

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