Thought for the Day: Technology

February 20, 2005
Today, I was reading the Business section of Monday’s NY Times (I was too ill to finish it last night) and came across several articles talkin about the technology sector. I zeroed in on one article in particular, To sum up the article, it’s about the ongoing battle between Sony and other media technology groups about the next format for movies and media. The secondary battle is about where the technology will be played, a television or on the computer.

My take on it is this: why do we need another format for movies and media? Yes, eventually, we will most likely need a larger format as movies become more sophisticated and require more space, or more people purchase DVD-burners to make their own home movies easier, but not at the moment. CDs have only been around for a decade or so, and DVDs are younger than that. There’s still a lot of people out there who don’t have a DVD player, and I know there’s still people with tape players in their car. Is there really a need for more technology for the general public, or is this to satisfy all the technology-geeks of the world who thrive on having the latest technology now! ? I can’t see the general public needing something like this right away, and it would probably be more beneficial to encourage people to trade in their VHS players for a DVD player.

I can understand why these businesses want to push forward with the new technology, to make a profit and be seen as being on the cutting-edge of technology. But at the same time, there’s so much wrong with the current stuff we have, why can’t they focus on fixing it? For instance, there’s still problems with Windows XP, but Microsoft is planning on launching the next release of Windows in the near future. Will the old problems be solved in the latest version? Probably not.

Companies thrive on the failure of their products. If their products didn’t fail, eventually, people would never have the need to upgrade, buy the latest thing, etc. It’s the danger of having such large monopolies like Microsoft. So many people are dependent on their technology that if it fails, those people will have no choice but to upgrade. Do I sound too pessimistic? I challenge anyone to give me one example of technology that has been able to last a long time that never broke down. It has to be something electronic, however. I know a hammer can be classified as technology, and odds are it will never break down in your lifetime, so I can’t count items like that that are built to last. I’m talking about all the temporary technology in the world: computers, cellphones, PDAs, stereos, etc.

There are days when I worry that this "failure in technology in order to suceed" can also apply to medical drugs and doctors, but that’s a different story.

My stance on technology is I want something to work, reliably, for a long time. My current stereo system has been running strong for over 6 years now, and I’m quite glad I never had to go out and buy another one. Everything else has small faults in it, that I just put up with. I’m not out to buy the latest gizmo, because I don’t have either the money to afford it, nor the time to play with it, nor a need for that item. I will probably never have a need for a PDA, nor a Blackberry, nor a handheld game device from Nintendo or Nokia, or whatever else may exist in the world that I don’t know about. I prefer reading books and newspapers to reading online, especially the NY Times. I’d prefer to talk in person than over a cellphone, as hard as it can be for me. I am thankful for computers and the ease in writing on them, until they fail on me, but I still enjoy writing with a pen and a small notebook so I can make sketches around my words.

I want technology to work for me, and not have me work to make it work. I want companies to stop advancing so quickly and focus rather on the consumers’ needs, and forget about profit for once. Making a customer happier will lead to financial success through word-of-mouth, I think. I wish they could teach people this at business school.

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