Technology outpacing demand?

A worrying thought hit me yesterday (or over the weekend, most of it was a blur); technology is so far outpacing society’s demand for it that we might hit a technological dark age.

Technology is updating more rapidly, getting smaller in physical size, more powerful, faster. At some point, the technology will update more frequently than the consumer is willing to renew their equipment.

This results in a commercial vacuum; the manufacturer is pouring money into R&D, releasing new products and getting less in sales because consumers are holding off and not updating every time there is a new product.

The manufacturer eases off the R&D, releases fewer products less often; the consumer is still gonna be expecting “the next big thing” any moment now, and holds off; the manufacturer gets less revenue and releases less … etc. We hit a comparative technological dark age.

An example; removable data/media storage (Dates are fairly rough and I’m gonna look at mass market here, not niche-ish stuff like tapes, ZIP drives etc).

First, way back in the 80’s there was the trusty floppy disk. Hasn’t changed for over 25 years, and is only just being dropped from OEM computers.

Mid 1990’s, most stuff is on CDs. Late 90’s, CDR and CDRW make an appearance.

Early 2000, DVD’s are all the rage.

2002/2003 USB flash is of a size and price thats useful and quickly starts to take over from CDRW’s and floppies as the primary data storage method.

2004/2005, DVDRW and USB hard drives are cheap enough for average joe user to buy and use.

2007 and HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are barely out the starting blocks when Toshiba announces a 51GB 3-layered disc.

Notice a trend? OK, it could be exaggerated by my really bad memory and Wikipedia editing, but the release cycle of better technology is getting shorter.

How many people actually have an HD-DVD/Blu-Ray player, with discs? I don’t, I don’t know anyone who has.

I won’t be “upgrading” until my DVD drives give out and I can’t get hold of any replacements, by which point USB flash drives and the Internet will probably be the default methods of distribution.

You know technology is doomed when you get geeks stating they aren’t interested in the latest bleeding edge offerings :-)