David: Recently, Canada’s postal system announced it will cease door-to-door mail service. It got me wondering…what are some of the other things likely to disappear in the next three to five years as a result of the Internet?
I’m thinking home phone lines and cable subscriptions. Do you agree? What about books and newspapers?
Kind regards and happy holidays!
If I know anything from observing tech trends for 30 years, it’s that nothing goes away as fast as we think it will.
Everyone thinks cable TV is dying, since so many people have now “cut the cord” and watch TV exclusively on the Internet (from Netflix, Hulu and so on). But the cord-cutters add up to 1 million people a year — just 1 percent of all U.S. cable subscriptions. Cable TV will not be going away in three to five years!
Home phone lines are also a lot less popular, thanks to cellphones and voice-over-Internet services like FaceTime and Skype. So maybe they’ll fade away, too—but in 20 years, not five.
Newspapers printed on paper? Maybe 20 years. Printed books? I’m gonna say “not in our lifetimes.” Unlike TV shows, phone calls and newspapers, books are objects that we buy, collect and pass along; physical books therefore have a utility that ebooks will never entirely replace.
If I had to predict near-term death sentences, CDs and DVDs might qualify (10 years). Anything that spins, really, is probably slated for extinction sooner or later. Hard drives are still much, much cheaper than the flash memory used as “hard drives” in tablets and phones (and some laptops), but it’s only a matter of time.
Camcorders are on a death spiral, too. At this point, they offer almost no advantages over still cameras (picture quality, battery life, zoom power). The big camcorder makers already offer far fewer models and improve them far less often than they used to. I’ll give camcorders 10 years.
Still cameras are less popular than before, thanks to smartphone cameras. But they’ll still be with us for decades; phones generally can’t zoom, don’t have worthy flashes, do terribly in low light, can’t freeze action, and offer little in the way of manual control.
I could be wrong, of course; people who predict the future of technology usually are. Why don’t you check back here in 25 years and see how I did?
David Pogue reads every message readers send him, and answers as many as he can before collapsing in exhaustion. A few, he answers here, in Pogue's Inbox. You can email him here.Yahoo Tech is a brand new tech site from David Pogue and an all-star team of writers. Follow us on Facebook for all the latest.