Is hi-tech timeless?
Consider the fate of an industry that for centuries was synonymous with high technology. Before computers, there was clockmaking.
In clocks, more was law: more precision, or at least better price/precision. All the attributes of hi-tech were there:
- the industry was intellectual property-driven: innovations led to success;
- it was prestigious: clocks were presents given to royalty;
- it was strategic, as high-precision clocks were key to ship navigation.
So what happened? Clocks improved slowly but steadily; finally, with the development of the quartz mechanism, they became both "good enough" and "cheap enough." Quartz technology revolutionized the industry: the companies that continued to compete solely on precision went out of business, and in the mainstream market today clocks are judged on style, not performance.
Before insisting that computer industry will never suffer the same fate, answer the question: is the iPod a portable special-purpose data processor or a fashion accessory?