If technology could be defined in a word, evolution would probably be a good fit. What this evolution ensues though is the obsolescence of gadgets that were selling like hotcakes until a few years ago and were touted to be the next big things.
No, we’re not talking about Netscape or things that were popular in the early 2000s. We’re talking about gadgets that were all the rage until one or two years back. We’ve tried to capture a few of such products and themes with relevance to the Indian market. We’ll add more to the list as things come and go by.
1. 32-inch televisions
It wasn’t too long ago that 32 inch TV felt like a huge upgrade and the best thing to happen to the living room. So what killed this breed of LED TVs? The answer is rather easy: 40-inch televisions. Yep, the 40-inch televisions which started at around Rs 30,000 until a few years ago have become super affordable due to the intense competition in the Indian market. You can get one for as low as Rs 15,000. At that price, no one really cares if it’s a Samsung or not.
The high brand purists have already moved to bigger sizes. For that matter, we think karma will do a full circle and 40 inchers are next in the line to perish, only to be replaced by 43-inch televisions.
2. Android tablets
Back when Android tablets were popular, they were being touted as laptop killers. It seems like the predator became the prey here and Android tablets have completely disappeared from the affordable price bracket. Why? Because phones have been getting offensively large and tablets only ever existed to play media content on a large screen. They could never close the productivity gap with the laptops and a 6-inch phone is enough to take care of your other needs. Besides, who needs another device to carry and charge all the time?
3. Selfie sticks
Okay, they aren’t totally out of fashion yet but give it another year or two and selfie sticks would join the bastion of one of the fads of this decade. Selfie sticks are getting exterminated thanks to two reasons.
They relied on the 3.5mm jack to click photographs. With Apple having started the trend of killing the headphone jack, selfie sticks didn’t have much going around for them really. People don’t prefer buying the expensive Bluetooth ones and that’s pretty much the end of the story unless there’s another way out which we don’t see.
Secondly, with most manufacturers focusing on the front camera, phones these days come with a wide-angle camera on the front that pretty much kills the need for a selfie stick.
4. 3.5mm jack on smartphones
Which brings us to the next on the list. This was pretty much a given even though there’s been a huge outcry against the forced death of 3.5mm jack on smartphones. Samsung was the last bastion of 3.5mm support, but that might get culled in the upcoming S10. We don’t really understand the excuses given for killing off the headphone jack, but here’s to hoping things outside smartphones continue to carry one.
5. Micro USB port
Micro USB port has had a long and happy life. It has become rather a synonym with charging and data transfer capabilities and is seen on a wide array of devices from phones, to PlayStation controllers, to drones, and what not. However, all good things must come to an end and such is the case with the micro USB port.
The USB C which has steadily been replacing the older standard promises higher charging rates, more durability, and ease of use (we can vouch for all three). We see this becoming more of a standard eventually and replacing all others such as HDMI. As long as we have fewer cables to worry about, it’s really for the battery.
6. Affordable flagships
Again, blame Apple for the trend, but US$1,000 flagship phones are becoming the norm rather than a preposterous joke. Slowing sales globally has led manufacturers to be more creative in the ways they can continue to derive value for their shareholders and unfortunately, the end consumer is a casualty. We wouldn’t have complained had these things lasted for half a decade, but with planned obsolescence, there’s no choice but to replace your phone after every 24-36 months. Heck, even the affordable flagship killers are flirting with flagship pricing and it’s no wonder people are sticking with their phones for longer.
Of course, there are a thousand other products that are on their way to the ethos of yesteryears. Removable batteries on phones & laptops and phablets to name a few. While some of these are planned, others are driven by market forces. And while some of them make way for better things, others don’t. We’ll keep updating this space as more things turn towards their demise in the future.