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10 things that won’t be around in 10 years

January 20, 2012 5 comments

On the day that Kodak’s century-long business crumbles into nothing; Apple makes the text book irrelevant and the US government shuts down one of the world’s largest filesharing sites I’m prompted to muse about 10 things that won’t be around in 10 years

  1. Cheque books: Almost gone now. In NZ 95% of transactions (according to Payments NZ) are electronic.  UK stepped back from abolishing them by 2018 due to a backlash from older users. It’s an older-aged and therefore declining customer use base by the year.
  2. Wallets/Credit Cards/Cash machines: With the domination of electronic payments by card soon to migrate from the plastic in your wallet to your smartphone what’s left to carry in your leather wallet? Your payment, transit, reward, and identification cards will all be digitalized within the next 10 years. And with contactless micro-payments at all terminals (MasterCard are mandating all merchant terminals to comply with contactless payment technology by 2013) and the ability to make person-to-person payments using the same mobile contactless technology, who would you pay in cash?
  3. Postal bank statements: Particular bug-bear of mine. Totally useless pieces of paper that go towards 13% of landfill content being paper. With online banking now being fully mobilised we just don’t need them now, let alone in 10 years time. They’re as relevant as encyclopedias or Kokak film. Period.
  4. The computer mouse: This 1970s invention will follow the demise of the desktop computer as touch, gesture and voice control finally enable human beings to interact with personal and business electronic devices without developing repetitive strain injury. Our grandchildren will look at us in our dotage with our crippled, useless hands and talk about late 20th/early 21st century offices  in the same way we refer to 19th Century factories.
  5. DVD rental stores; music stores and mass market bookshops: Amazing to think that only a few years  ago these were like the hygiene factors of every decent main street or shopping mall.  The music store never recovered from iTunes giving the music industry a new business model; DVD rental stores are only around because the TV industry’s wake-up call legacy from Steve Jobs hasn’t occurred yet. It will this year. And the big chains like Borders; Dimmocks; Waterstones (sans apostrophe) only survived until online shopping became mass-market. Niche bookshops and graphic novels will survive by offering a tactile, olfactory, social experience around specific reading subjects that digital won’t be able to recreate. The other interesting play will be whether governments try to institute local territory good and services taxation on global online operations.  However, as it’s US corporations that dominate the online commerce market – it’s unlikely any other government would attempt this.
  6. Digital cameras (outside of mobile phones). Gone the way of photographic film, probably in 5 years.
  7. Broadcast TV: Whether iTV from Apple revolutionizes the TV manufacturing and content industries this year or next in 10 years time the idea of waiting to view a programme will be incredible.
  8. Hardware to access online services that costs more than $100. Expensive desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone technology will be replaced by cheap-to-replace; recyclable touch screens and digital membranes of various sizes, shapes and capacities in the same way we think of light bulbs today. Hard drives will be a thing of the past as personal and business computing and digital entertainment will move to the cloud.
  9. Non-ubiquitous internet access: The growth of free wi fi will spread access like water or electricity. Combine this with LTE and, for New Zealand, a much bigger cable via Pacific Fibre to the rest of the world plus that almost all home electronic devices will be linked to the web we will all be part of the matrix. The issue of online identity and personal privacy protection will be the great debate of the 2020s. In a scenario almost the reverse of 10 years ago, unless you’re wealthy enough, you won’t be able to avoid being connected to the web.
  10. Illegal online filesharing: If your business model is based on restricting access to digital content then it’s unlikely you’ll be flourishing in 10 years. I’m definitely not saying this is necessarily a good thing – creative IP should always be rewarded and therefore recognised in some way – what I am saying is that the genie is well and truly out of the bottle in regards to digital rights management. Investigating alternative compensation systems will dominate the next 10 years for content industries. The events of today only underline the challenge of retaining a closed and complicated model for managing digital rights. If the short and volatile history of the internet has proved anything, it’s that closed and complicated models are always trounced by simple and open.
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I could get Siri-ous about corporate Siri

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s fascinating watching the build up to CES being dominated by anticipation of what Apple (who famously aren’t at the show) may or may not do next.

Voice recognition was predicted to be a particular focus at the show – and CES hasn’t disappointed with voice controlled TVs, Intel unveiling Ultrabooks featuring voice in nine languages and possibly with real-time translation ability. You talk to your Ultrabook in Chinese and it responds in English.

Apple's Siri

The hype around voice recognition is driven from Apple’s Siri – the ‘intelligent personal assistant available on the iPhone 4s that helps you get things done just by asking’. While still in beta – and suffering a few teething issues – Siri has taken voice recognition from the ghetto of misunderstood commands and nonsensical responses to being a service people actually want to use on their phone.

Siri’s popularity is such that it seemed to catch Apple’s server farms slightly flat-footed at launch as demand for Siri to answer questions such as “What’s the meaning of life?”; “Where’s my nearest ATM” and “Close the pod doors” outstripped capacity, resulting in connection issues.

More telling was Google’s response from Eric Schmidt that the service was a threat to Google’s search business. A politic comment maybe, but you couldn’t ask for a better compliment from a competitor. Rumours of Siri being a key feature on Apple’s iTV has also quite obviously put the heat on current TV manufacturers – as evidenced from CES.

Siri may be hooked up to massive internet knowledge libraries but she is also unashamedly hungry to learn. Once out of the box she will pore through information from your contacts, music library, calendars, and reminders to better understand what you say. Siri also helps you by learning about the key people in your life. The first time you ask Siri to call your sister, it will ask you who your sister is. That information is stored in Contacts along with other relationship information like “mom,” “husband,” and “grandma.”

Siri on meaning of life

Siri shows she has a sense of humour - or at least her developer did

As has been noted by some users this eagerness to learn and improve can lead to embarrassing situations.  Mozilla Labs lead designer Kevin Fox found out the hard way that what happens in Siri doesn’t necessarily stay in Siri.

Siri is currently a personal assistant for non-business users. And being in beta is, as evidenced above, still in a rather childlike state in many regards. But she is powered by Wolfram Alpha –  a knowledge engine on steroids whose ultimate purpose is to unify the sum of all human knowledge.

Once Apple work through it’s teething problems Siri’s success as a personal application is assured. But imagine the potential as a business tool. What company wouldn’t have a spare virtual seat at the boardroom table for the quiet member who can provide the answers on absolutely everything under the sun –  from company reports; interest rate predictions; to the smallest detail on the company ledger?

How much would a company pay for a compliant director whose brain encompasses the sum of all human knowledge, who can be available 24/7 – and who also manages your entire internal knowledge base? An ultimate knowledge resource that for CEO or CSR is only a question away?

I find Siri rather fetching in her personal capacity, but she could be seriously hot once she hits corporate mode!