The Race to the Next Big Thing

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In their latest event, along with a new iPhone, Apple launched a new device, the Apple Watch, finally entering the market of smart watches and wearable gadgets. Gone are the days when Apple created its own new markets. Now it stands as yet another competitor trying to forge its way towards the next big breakthrough. But what led to such a stagnated market? What will end this dry spell of weak refreshes and breathe fresh air into an industry which lives on innovations?

It all began with the internet. Technology was at the brink of breaking loose. IBM, Apple and other companies which had cloned their devices had flooded the market and created the concept of the home computer. The next challenge was to get these computers to talk to each other and create a network. The fact that it became global took quite some time.

To say that the development of the internet was a revolution is an understatement. The internet was a well of seemingly endless potential. People played around with it and mistook it for the new gold rush. This is what led to the .com crash of the 90s which brought internet-run ventures to their knees.

With time, hope and dreams began to rise again. The conception of social media was a welcome surprise, and people found a new way to make money from the internet. Meanwhile in the world of electronics we saw the rise of mp3 players fuelled by the success of the iPod. Combining these devises with a phone led to the development of the smartphones and, eventually, tablets.

The degree of innovation varies from product to product, but over the past few years people have started to focus on stagnating technologies rather than look into other appealing avenues. We have seen a great deal of evolution in the field of technology but not enough revolution. A good example of this is the drive towards 4k, both in terms of display and content. Our technology to store data is not yet ready to meet the requirements of 4k content, nor are the loss-less compression algorithms (contrary to what you might see on Silicone Valley). Besides, 4k does not provide the remarkable change in quality that the jump from SD (480p) to HD (1080p) did.

The drive for 4k TV displays was a result of the sharper screens that are now seen on laptops like the Dell XPS 15 (2014). However in a world that is shrinking towards smaller gadgets focused on portability, TV should not be the primary focus for tech enthusiasts.

Finally coming back to the problem at hand, we are faced with a new market which is not yet ready.  The first problem with smart watches is the question, ‘why do we need them?’ If it is simply to use it as an extension of a smartphone the Pebble does a splendid job leaving little (colour screen and apps) to be desired. Iterations from several companies have provided many pretty looking ‘features’, but all of them come at a cost. Some only work with a phone, others have terrible battery life.

The simple fact of the matter is that there needs to be a change on the basic level for the idea to work. To keep the aesthetics of a watch, (which is one of the main attractions of a watch collector/enthusiast) while providing functional utility like projectable displays and independent connection to the internet and topping it up with unlimited/very long battery life, is years ahead. The data storing, energy utilisation and storage technology does not exist.

Does this mean we should give up hope? Certainly not! Technology is ever changing and everyone who thinks that technology has reached a so called ‘ultimate’ point has been proven wrong by history. In the case of warbles in general and smart watches in particular, pieces of the technology exist and others are still being developed. The world is just waiting for someone to come and put them together.

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