We’ve been wondering when computer technology will tap out. This seems counterintuitive, since we all chase the new shiny thing and programs continue to strain old systems and Moore’s law is still chugging, but really — what do you do other than type at work and play with photos or video? Intel and computer makers have moved away from the chip-speed claims of the 1990s, where every six months PCs seemed obsolete when a faster microprocessor hit the market. Now, today, do you even know what your computer processor clock speed or bus speed are? Do you care?
When things become commodities, prices fall. In the future companies might give away laptops or cell phones, making plug-ins to the internet and cloud software systems as common as the electrical outlets on the wall in your home. Devices would shift in two directions: disposable — plastic tossaways that get you online for a while — and luxury, the future Apple titanium shells you might still buy and flash as a signal that you’re wealthy, intellectual, or ready to mate.
When glass panels are all around us and we have instant always-on access to a virtual world, hardware makers may go the way of the buggy-whip. Marketing will change, too — the one-thousandfold increase in content means advertisers might have no way of reaching consumers, unless they buy access to individuals. You could end up with your own CPM — a unique price on your head for advertisers to buy not media, but just you.
In this future world, you would be the center of the marketing universe, surrounded by free panels that take you where you want to go. Advertisers will have to be personal and relevant to get your attention, because otherwise they will never intercept you. Mass marketing will be dead.
Hopefully by then The New York Times will have new computers.