Any sufficiently outdated technology is indistinguishable from garbage

Steven Brykman | February 4, 2014 | Mobile App Development Mobile Strategy

tx16w

Consider this: in 1988 I purchased a Yamaha TX16W, a rack-mount digital sampler, for several thousand dollars of 1980’s money. It shipped with 1.5MB of RAM and could record up to 16 seconds of sound at 16kHz in mono, assuming you plugged a mic and some headphones into it. Samples could then be stored on 3.5” floppy disks that held 720k of data. That’s k as in kilobytes. I still remember the magical feeling I once felt when I first turned it on, somehow managed to navigate the interface, assigned the samples to a MIDI keyboard, and spent the day recording my first song.

41qPp0Bx4UL

Today, you can walk into a Walgreens and for five dollars buy a reusable sampler that can record for as long as 30 minutes, includes the microphone and speaker, runs on battery, and comes wrapped in a heartwarming greeting card to boot!

While I’m sure the fidelity of the Hallmark card can’t compete with that of the Yamaha, even a toddler could suss-out the record and play functions of the greeting card, while the TX16W on the other hand possessed an operating system commonly referred to as “one of the worst ever made.”

Now keep in mind that all the greeting card does is record something that might give you a little chuckle now and then. Otherwise, it sits in a desk or more likely, in the garbage. It can’t noodge you to buy your mother a card on her birthday. Meanwhile, a WiFi-enabled orange juice container would connect to your network, keep track of your drinking habits, calculate your blood glucose, tell you when it’s about to go bad, suggest new flavors, email you when you’re running low, push deals to your devices, and even order more juice ahead of time—all of which serve to pay for itself and then some.

So it makes perfect sense that before too long we’ll be throwing these things away, too, along with the empty OJ carton, just as today we might throw away anything from an annoying freebie McDonalds’ toy (do those batteries ever die??) to a 24” cathode-ray computer monitor.

Imagine, then, a land five years hence: beacons, already affordable today, are ubiquitous, cataloging and analyzing and predicting our every move before we even make them; communicating endlessly with our devices like old friends, pushing deals and recommendations, suggesting we purchase things related to the things we didn’t even know we liked in the first place, and asking in turn for voluntary feedback to help fill its own coffers with more free data. And in the Enterprise space, huge advances in productivity will result, as workplace beacons ensure all employees know where to go for their meetings—even when the room has suddenly changed—and are doing their best to get there on time by literally guiding them there, turn by turn (perhaps even sending them a Starbucks coupon if they’re moving a little slower than usual).

However, even this will give way to something better and the landfills will suddenly become littered with beacons, left to catalog the movement of seagulls and garbage trucks until their batteries finally run out (assuming they ever do).

Because while it might be correct that, as Arthur C. Clark once theorized, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” the flip-side is sadly just as true. One day’s magic is another day’s trash. Whatever mobile technology your enterprise is considering, best move quickly to adopt it, lest it be made obsolete by the next incarnation of 0’s and 1’s before your company has a chance to reap the rewards.

That’s where we come in. Propelics specializes in getting you up to speed faster than anyone. It’s our whole MO. In just two weeks we’ll get you from concept to design to working prototype—ensuring your company isn’t left with a mess of 16 second samplers when the next big (read: little) thing comes around.

Steven Brykman

Steven is a Digital Strategist and UX Architect focusing on Mobile Products with a diverse background in writing and literature. He spent much of the last decade as Creative Technologist/Lead Strategist of his own design company, helping Fortune 500 companies define the direction of their digital campaigns, websites and mobile applications. Additionally, he co-founded Apperian, a Boston-based mobile technology startup.

More Posts

Follow Me:
TwitterLinkedIn