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The Technological Race – Worth it to Buy Tomorrow?


“With this alarmingly rapid rate of technological advent, the period between new versions grows smaller. So small that we are left with no time to enjoy the current versions that we do possess.”

By  Prachi Kamble, Staff Writer

Buying a technological gadget is a whole new experience today as opposed to what it was a few years ago. Technology appears to update itself by the hour. Innovations arrive daily by the dozen. A 1.0 goes to a 2.0 within months and a whole new series dethrones its predecessors within another.

I go into a phone store to check out smartphones. I get tempted by their incredible functionalities. These phones are so capable that I already see them as viable substitutes for desktops and laptops. The current versions of these, very true to their name, smartphones have achieved incredible feats. Video chats, high quality picture taking, internet browsing, and video streaming on a phone would have seemed impossible a year ago, yet here it all is. And not only that, it is getting better by the minute in ways we cannot even predict anymore.

As I browse through the array of the silicon brilliance of these smartphones,I cannot help but address a nagging fear: the minute I commit to one of these phones, a better version will be out in a matter of months. By then, I will be so hooked on the features of the phone I choose that I will find it absolutely impossible to keep on living without its newer version. The cycle will continue as long as the phone company will keep piling up new versions in its product pipeline and I will have, by then, successfully developed a technological habit, so to speak. I will be left needing the next version like my next fix. Profits for the phone companies will keep rolling in, while I will be “right now” and satiated until the next new hot thing makes a premature appearance, of course.

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With this alarmingly rapid rate of technological advent, the period between new versions grows smaller. So small that we are left with no time to enjoy the current versions that we do possess. Technology, with its blink-and-miss pace, is making sure we always stay one step behind. We will always chase new models and yet be guaranteed to never catch up. Is this the inevitable face of the future or is this just a lesson from which we will learn to take a breather from the torrent of constant upgrades?

Perhaps phone companies need to slow down and internally test out their products for a longer period of time, so that they can come up with a product that stands the test of time. Well, at least, the test of a little while. Surely a year or two of calm in the market is not too much to ask for? As a customer, I have too often felt the disgruntlement that comes when gadget manufacturers thwart the loyalty of previous customers.

The greater frequency of updates means it becomes less possible to get your money’s worth off of the model you ultimately decide to buy

Having bought a Playstation 2 only to be left behind by the Playstation 3 within months, I felt slightly betrayed. This betrayal no doubt takes away from customer satisfaction when you begin to feel duped into being a yesterday customer. It could rightly be classified as trickery, but I digress on a wave of the bitter feeling that comes with being left behind. As I look into the vibrant face of an iPhone 4, I see the reflection of my furrowed eyebrow that is already anticipating the iPhone 5 and how out of date it is bound to make me feel in the very near future.

The product cycles of the major gadgetry in the market are intriguing. The cunningly marketed iPhones were updated six times from 2007 to 2011. The iPod classic was updated six times as well, from 2001 to 2007. The iPod Mini made a fleeting mark from 2004 to 2005, whereas the Nano stuck around from 2005 to 2010 with a total of six updates. Not to forget Apple’s relative lightweights: the iPod touch (two updates in four years) and the iPod Shuffle (four updates in five years).

Apple’s fierce competitor, RIM, followed a similar pattern with its Blackberrys. Between 2008 and 2009 a Bold, a Curve, a Tour, a Storm and another Curve were introduced. Between 2009 and 2011, most of these were quickly updated, some up to three times (like the Bold), while new models like the Pearl 3G and the Torch were also simultaneously released.

Game consoles were not far behind this whirlwind of innovation. The Xbox saw releases and updates a staggering nine times between 2005 to 2010. The Playstation, in comparison, remained fairly stable with three major updates in fifteen years with the addition of a few aesthetic redesigns.

What does one do with so many options? Customers buy phones and mp3 players with a readiness to see them become obsolete in a matter of months. Gamers worry about not being able to play games manufactured in the future as games become less and less backwards compatible. Again, the greater frequency of updates means it becomes less possible to get your money’s worth off of the model you ultimately decide to buy. Will customers become tired of the circus of constant updates or will they rebel and take a backseat to allow the dust to settle on products that are true and large innovations in their own right?

Upgrades, of course, mean things are getting better. Faster, thinner, smaller, prettier. But what good are these updates when they leave you too confused to appreciate their genius? Maybe it really is time to have the madness of upgrades be contained in labs a while longer so that only the cream of technology is allowed to escape and wow the market- a wow that takes its time and sticks around for a while, like, a good, steady friend.

By  Prachi Kamble, Staff Writer

ARB Team
Arbitrage Magazine
Business News with BITE.

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