It’s interesting how the hottest of hot technologies gradually cools and fades away.
I’m thinking about this after visiting Best Buy to buy a cassette player for my elderly uncle who loves to listen to books on tape. Now Best Buy is a big store and after wandering around awhile, I had to ask a salesperson, who carefully directed me to the “Personal Audio” section. This single row of products featured a sparse selection of CD players – mostly Sony – and only one cassette player with headphones (also a Sony); lots of hanging space, not too many products. Just one cassette player! And only a couple of CD players!
Now we’re talking about two technologies that were once the reddest of red hot technologies – the mobile cassette player (which made the Gadgets Hall of Fame when Sony introduced the Walkman) – and the mobile CD player, which turned digital music into something that we could take with us wherever we wanted to go. It’s an ongoing equation: no Walkman = no CD player = no iPod. (See www.ieee-virtual-museum.org for a walk back in time.)
It’s hard to imagine and look into the future with any certainty – especially in consumer electronics and gadgets – but don’t be too surprised in a decade or two in the future that the iPod and other MP3 players will occupy that same lonely little area that cassette and CD players do today.
Only time will tell (and the voice of consumers, voting with our wallets) …