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Michael Baxter

A new technology boom?

Written by: Michael Baxter on December 19th 2012

Category: Thought for the day

It’s just a handful of companies. You know the ones, they are the usual suspects: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and throw in IBM, and for the benefit of the doubt, Microsoft, Samsung and Nokia. They won’t all make it through, but there are reasons to believe that collectively these companies are in for a new boom time.

The thing about computers is that it’s what they can do that counts.

I experienced this in the early days of my career when I worked in computer PR.  Back in the mid-1980s there was this feeling that computer games were on their way out. In 1984, I heard it over and over again: “Computer games are like hoola hoops,” they said.  My bank manager used to say it me (that was in the days when we still had bank managers).  And looking beyond the computer publications, even the national newspapers used to say the same thing. “Computer games,” they said, “are yesterday’s news.”

The point I tried to get across was that the technology inside computers was changing incredibly fast, and as it changed, graphics would become more realistic and as that happened computer games’ popularity would rise. Half-jokingly, I used to say that one day movies will be released based on computer games, rather than the other way round.

Over the next 25 years I learnt two things. These technological revolutions always take longer to gain traction than you expect, but eventually they exceed even the most bullish of forecasters. In 1984 I was convinced the industry was set to explode. But never in my wildest dreams did I guess the extent of the eventual size.

The point though was that technological improvements led to the growth.

And this begs the question: what next? What can possibly happen to give computer technologies the next lift? You can imagine how an iPad might one day boast higher resolution and bandwidth might make them quicker, but really, it is hard to envisage how an iPad can ever have many features that aren’t mainly derivative of what it does now. Maybe we have had the great breakthroughs. The low hanging fruit has been picked, and in the future advances will be more incremental. We won’t see great leaps.

Well imagine again. See this article on ‘CNNMoney’ to  consider the possibilities. By 2018, computers will touch, see, hear, taste and smell 

IBM has predicted that within five years your computer will be able to simulate touch and feel. It will be a sort of trickery. You will be touching glass or a plasma screen, but it will feel as though you are touching something quite different.

Now just imagine that. Imagine the implications for online shopping, imagine the implications for entertainment.

That’s why I think that consumer technology has a lot more growth in it yet – a  lot more. It may be little more than a decade away before we can interface with our tablet directly from our brain.

It is impossible to predict who the winners will be, but I am confident that some of the dominant companies today will be among them.

Sure the Facebook of touching or tactile social media may not be Facebook. but that’s not the point. Not all the companies I mentioned above will make it. If I had to predict who will fall by the wayside I would say Microsoft and Nokia.  But it is not too late for them to stage a turnaround.

But betting against Apple with its $100 billion plus cash mountain strikes me as foolish. Google is not afraid to experiment. I am impressed with its work on a driverless car. It shows that the company is looking towards the future. I have said before how I think Amazon is set to get many times bigger, See Amazon set to overtake Walmart by 2020 and The top brand in the UK has a p/e ratio of 180: is it time to flee or jump in? and I have made the case for Facebook quite recently. See Is now the time to buy into Social Media?

As for IBM, big blue could well see a return to former glories, only more so, because it will be operating in a bigger industry.

Talking about the wonders of the iPad: see this video on what an IPad can do! It is truly amazing, if slightly exaggerated. Don’t worry about it being in German: if anything, this adds to the video. If nothing else, you might be witnessing the greatest salesman ever. See: best iPad salesman ever 

These views and comments are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of The Share Centre, its officers and employees

Tags: brain interface to tablet iPad, new technology boom, tactile social media, tactile tablets, technological revolutions, who will win from technology boom

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