Remember when you got your first HDTV, tablet or smart phone? These devices opened up a whole new world of possibilities for consumers. The pictures were better, they were easier to use or they just allowed us to do so much more when we were not at home. For the past couple of years, consumer interest in technology has lapsed. The devices we have from several years ago are good enough. Manufacturers still try to entice consumers with bigger, better and newer devices but consumers just are not as fascinated by them. What is it about technology right now that has caused consumers to essentially ignore buying the latest and greatest?
One of the biggest problems is that the changes in the devices that are improvements are essentially imperceptible to the average person. Take for instance a 4K TV. Sure, it offers higher detail on the screen which means a better picture. But depending on how far your sit from the TV, how large your TV is and the conditions you view it in, consumers may not notice the difference. Why are some companies pushing ahead already to 8K televisions when consumers have not even adopted 4K screens yet. The same can also be said for many digital cameras as the megapixel counts keep going up be the perception of those images does not change because consumers are not looking at the images that closely.
The next problem is function. Smartwatches fall into this category. The companies are almost trying to manufacture a need for these devices. The idea that you can quickly gather information from a watch rather than pulling out a phone from a pocket or bag sounds like a good idea. The problem is that the devices are generally trying to do too much and have major limitations. For instance, most smart watches require recharging every day because they don’t have enough space for batteries to run for very long.
Would you believe that size is now becoming an issue with consumers? Technology allows devices to get smaller. Just look at what a laptop today can do compared to one a couple years ago and how much smaller the new one is. This is great but eventually you reach a point when usability by consumers becomes an issue. If the devices get too small, they become difficult for users to interact with. They can also be easily misplaced and lost. This is one of the reasons why many phones are getting bigger rather than smaller. Screens were getting too small for them to be easy to use with all of the tasks they are used for.
Finally, there is the one device to rule them all mentality. Why carry around a phone, a camera, a fitness tracker, a GPS, etc when you can carry a smartphone? Sure it can do all of these things, and some of them extremely well. But the problem is that they generally cannot do all of them better than a stand alone device. For instance, a phone can be used as a fitness tracker, but that phone must be with you at all times to do the tracking. Not everyone wants to keep that device on their person as they ride a bike or swim.
The real issue is that technology has become too common. Most people have smartphones and computers these days which they did not ten years ago. HDTV is standard as is streaming instead of relying on cable or broadcast TV. The technology we use has simply become another appliance. As such, they only are replaced when they have to be, not because we need things that are faster or slightly more efficient. After all, people don’t buy a new car every couple of years because they are slightly faster or more efficient. Instead, we replace them when they have worn out.
Right now, we are in a technology rut. There is nothing that is so unique and fascinating the it captures the public’s attention. Eventually, something will come out that consumers will find that they cannot live without. Until then, expect more minor improvements to technology rather than massive leaps.