2013 was a year filled with the introduction of many new inventions and ideas however overall it appears that technology appears to be stagnating. As discussed in an article from Quartz, 2013 was a fairly mundane year for technology due primarily to a lack of innovation from key industry players. While it is impossible to fully cover every area of technology in this article, key areas which have appeared to be less than stellar include the mobile sector, wearable technology and also media coverage of technology.
Mobile Phones Stagnate
Thanks to Moore’s Law, consumers have reached a point where they no longer need to keep buying new phones every two years. For example, the iPhone 5C is nothing more than the iPhone 4S in a colored case. Despite running older hardware, the iPhone 5C was a hot seller in both domestic and emerging markets due to a average market price of around $100.
Similarly Samsung, Motorola and other Android device manufactures have been failing to introduce compelling features which really serve a useful purpose. For example, Samsung was chastised by critics of doing such a good job on developing the Galaxy S3 that when the Galaxy S4 came out – there was no compelling reason for users to upgrade – unless of course automatic finger less scrolling and a high powered processor can justify a consumer making at least a $300 investment.
Mobile carriers have even begun gouging their customers with ridiculous plans such as Verizon Edge, Sprint One Up, AT&T Next and T-Mobile JUMP. These planns have all attempted to fool customers into upgrading their phone every six months or annually – albeit at a very unfavorable premium (often twice as much as if you used a traditional plan) according to Lifehacker.
The only real advantage newer generation phone have over older phones is really better quality screens and maybe somewhat improved battery life. Of course, practical processing power has really leveled off. Sure phones might have dual core processors packing nearly as much power as a laptop from a year or so ago, however is that power needed for playing Angry Birds? Of course not! That’s why despite what the phone companies might be telling you – you really don’t need the latest and greatest model phone even if you are a power user.
Wearable Tech Came in Misguided Forms
Love it or hate it, 2013 was the year of the smartwatch and Google Glass. Unfortunately manufacturers have failed to establish a solid purpose to actually justify the existence of such technologies. While Google Glass might seem cool, Business Insider reports that privacy concerns and logistical issues have made the device more of a proof of concept rather than a revolutionary invention. As time goes by in 2014 and even 2015 – don’t expect Google Glass users to actually find a useful purpose for the device. By the time a useful purpose is found, humans will be having retina implants done so that they don’t need to wear ridiculous headgear while taking advantage of technology.
On the other hand, smartwatches have yet to prove themselves as solid inventions. Our technology predictions for 2014 already covered how Samsung managed to loose to a bunch of nobodies in the smartwatch game – however overall these devices are nothing more than a screen you can wear on your wrist. One only needs to consider this desperate ad from Samsung to realize that unless you want to be a tool for the tech industry, passing on that smartwatch purchase might be a wise idea.
As Usual the Media Failed to Understand Technology
Despite technology playing a crucial role in our daily lives, the mainstream media has yet to actually learn to understand the topic before actually spewing out faulty information. Whether it was falling into Amazon’s drone PR stunt, hyping up Bitcoin (more can be found in this Bitcoin Research Paper), or continuing the tradition of hyping up “the cloud” – this time in the form of big data in applications which really don’t make sense.
Unfortunately the media has a tendency of trying to hop on the biggest buzz without giving any thought to the impact. As with anything, technology is subject to how the beholder views things. Similar to the glass being half empty or half full, when a reporter is covering a story, in the absence of a proper understanding of the technology, it is easy to expect more than what can really be delivered.
In the case of 2013, while the general media was hyping up what they hoped would be their dreams come true, the real technology journalists were reporting from a realistic perspective based on reason and facts.
Despite all the doom and gloom mentioned above, there is a silver lining to these flawed trends. Innovation is rarely perfect and success isn’t always found in a linear path. Sure – Google Glass, Bitcoin and smartwatches might seem like a waste of resources however it is important to note that they are all first edition inventions in brand new industries.
Thanks to Google Glass, expect to see increased interest in augmented reality. Bitcoin although more of a novelty rather than viable investment vehicle (see the previously mentioned research paper for details) has sparked important discussions on commerce and the role of government in economies today. Finally smartwatches – as much as people love to knock them – still open the floodgates for affordable, wearable technology. At the moment they might seem pointless, however expect to see this situation improve as developers have more time to develop apps and refine the devices.
That being said, despite Quartz saying 2013 was a lackluster year in technology, it is vital to note that while innovation may seem to have stagnated – that just means manufacturers and industry experts need to pivot and adapt to the changing times.