I saw an article last week on a list of things that have nearly disappeared over the last decade. The list consist of: calling, newspaper classifieds, dial up internet, encyclopedias, CDs, land line phones, film photography, yellow pages and address books, catalogs, fax machines, wires, hand written letters. All of them are still around, they are just becoming archaic or obsolete.
I suspect that over the next decade, there will be other things that are common today that will become archaic and decline over time.
Broadcast Network Television – Rupert Murdoch who runs Fox is already trying to kill the Fox broadcast network and turn it into a cable/Satellite only network. He also has plans to turn all of his news sites into subscription only, which is likely to fail miserably, but his plans for TV actually make financial sense. If so, NBC, CBS, and ABC could follow suit, and Broadcast TV as a mainstream media outlet will be dead. Now if AM Radio can survive for 100 years, so can Broadcast TV. It will just have a lot more infomercials and pointless talk shows (just like AM radio) to fill in the gap.
Satellite Television – You are probably wondering why I would predict the downfall of Satellite after predicting the end of broadcast. It is quite easy: The future of TV is instant access. This is doable on internet based TV services like Uverse and FiOS, and even possible with cable services via broadband internet if you have a receiver that can buffer the show as you download. It is not doable on Satellite. This plus the huge overhead cost of Satellite TV services will spell doom for these services. I’d even go as far as to predict that one of the two major satellite services (Direct TV or Dish Network) will stop satellite operations and close, or jump to the IP TV market instead.
Multiplex Theaters – Multiplexes with their 24 small theater screens are likely to head to the scrap heap. Large theaters with big (or IMAX) screens capable of 3D and digital projection will replace them. The multiplex experience is too close to home theater, and with high costs of going out to the theater, it is likely to decline in popularity.
DVDs – Just as CDs started to disappear last decade, DVDs are likely to disappear this decade with widespread On Demand TV and game download services. BluRay will never be more than a niche market as well. This will also include video games on DVD media. Not only will places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video start disappearing, but those Red Box dispensers will too eventually.
Printed Newspapers and Magazines – Between the Internet, and the Kindle, print is dead. Online news papers will still exist, some may even thrive via online delivery options, but papers you read by spreading it out on the kitchen table will disappear.
Big Box Bookstores – Just as the giant chain record stores have disappeared with the demise of the CD, the giant chain bookstores will disappear with the demise of print. Small specialty shops will still be around (rare book stores and comic book stores), as will book departments in department stores. But as more people convert to tablets, like Kindle and the Nook, and access to online libraries to go in them, the market for printed books will be dead.
Libraries – Between budget cuts and new technology, libraries will get rarer and rarer. All the major cities and universities will still keep them around, but with the primary use of the libraries being free internet sources these days, providing free “hot spots” around town is cheaper and can promote commerce in those designated areas.
Gas powered vehicles – Over the next decade, oil production is going to be level or in decline. We are going to be forced to find ways to use less oil, or live in a new Great Depression. Considering the sheer number of gas powered vehicles there are, it seems quite bold to predict their demise, but I foresee natural gas powered hybrids, plug in hybrids and pure electric vehicles (including electric bicycles) dominating the road within a decade… either that or $20 a gallon gas.
Incadescent bulbs – CFLs and LEDs for the win! This one’s a no brainer.
Hard Drives – The one weak point in computers today are the hard drives. They are physical devices with high RPM spin that are almost guaranteed to fail within 5 years. Average life span is around 3. The thing that has kept them around for so long is that solid state drives are still slower, hold less data, and more expensive. I believe hard drives are at their peak right now. There is little need for faster or bigger hard drives than what we have now. If solid state drives can catch up to where hard drives are today, and that is a very likely scenario in the next decade, hard drives will become obsolete.
Desktop computers – You know those big boxes with 2 or 3 DVD burners and 2 or 3 big Sata drives powered by 500 watt power supplies sitting under your desk like the one I am using right now? Archaic dinosaurs by the end of the next decade! I think the 10s will see the end of Moore’s law of bigger and faster, replaced by smaller and more energy efficient. The big desktop computer under my desk is likely to be the size of my ipod touch in 10 years powered by a 30 watt power adapter — and just as powerful. Its tempting to just predict everyone will use laptops, as that trend is already coming to pass, but the primary attraction of desktops is gaming, which is doable on laptops but it is awkward. The primary components to the desktop is the full size monitor and the full size keyboard. Monitors won’t be shrinking in size any, and LED backlighting, touch screens, and 3D capabilities will become more common place. This pretty much guarantees there will be a place for non-mobile computing, it is the CPU part of the computer that will be getting smaller and more energy efficient. It may even get small enough to carry around with you to move to different keyboard/monitor “terminals”.
The key to the next decade is energy efficiency. All signs point to energy being a major concern in the next 10 years. The more energy efficient our tech, the less impact energy shortages will have, and the cheaper it will be to live.