Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No End in Sight for the Technology Bubble

Are we about to end the Technology Bubble that brought us Netflix, the DVR, iPod, and Skype? Clearly, consumer tastes have oustripped their wallets, if the current recession is any measure. The days of enormous price increases for gadgets may be waning. Fortunately, the proliferation and expansion of most current technologies toward "open source" solutions continues to rein in massive investment and the expected revenue multiples that heretofor were expected by capitalist industries. Apple and Microsoft notwithstanding, the development of mobile devices, delivery of streaming content, and availability of apps, software, and computer programs from the "Cloud" is relatively free to the consumer in most instances. In the US there are a few POS (point of sale) devices that vend media (RedBox) and also a few remaining outlets like Blockbuster Video stores (early 2012). Instead, Hulu, Netflix, and other content providers compete to give us "free" apps for our mobile gadgets so that we can stream of download their content for what seems like "nominal" charges.
The shift from buy it, own it, use it, throw it away or replace it, is changing not so subtly to rent it, subscribe to it, use the plain vanilla version and then pay monthly a for more features style of revenue generation. Witness the hundreds of web sites and now app providers. Consumer wallets that historically bought stuff at the going price and then used it for ten or fifteen years until it wore out (read: appliances like refrigerators or TVs) now need to be growing accustomed to pay more total dollars on an incremental basis monthly or annually than previously with no end in sight to missing product longevity (read that obsolescence) or proliferation of countless new gadgets, purposes, and features that would make our ancestors roll over in their graves! Even the tried and true "nothing down and then low monthly payments" ethic is changing. Cyber banking is changing the way we think and treat money, credit, and spending.
There's also collateral "Stuff" that is happening all the while we get sucked along by the inertia of technology currents. There are serious intellectual property, copyright, privacy, and identity issues, not to mention the whole "free" Internet argument that pits commercial interests against consumer rights and expectations throughout the world now. Until these issues are addresses, debated, and resolved, the gadgets we now depend upon for instant global communication, current, topical information, and the re- orientation of our notions of what is physical, virtual, or even "real", will seem like a 21st century twilight zone, especially to the unsuspecting.  
Stay Tuned for more "stuff"!
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