Technology in perspective: Why breakout consumer tech hits have become harder to find?

By the time you’d read it, the most prominent technology show would have ended, and you’d forget about the news cycle and the hype. It is a marketing paradise where the “trends” are defined by how much the online publications are willing to give it traction. Virtual reality was supposed to be the next big thing with a “demonstration” of how it can be used to conduct surgical training. I don’t see any practical application. Likewise, augmented reality (AR) promises to be on the horizon, but we haven’t touched base with it yet.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place in Las Vegas next week, is an annual orgy of technology and gadgets. It also provides a fascinating glimpse of new categories of tech struggling to be born.

More than 10 years ago, one of the hits at the show was an LG “watch phone”, complete with a music player and built-in camera for video conferencing. Throwing these capabilities together turned out to be harder than it looked, and it took the genius of Apple to produce the first coherent packaging of wristwear technology in the shape of its Watch.

As a new decade dawns, the gadget enthusiasts will be out in force once again. But the factors animating the consumer electronics world have changed. Rather than technology and devices, the main forces behind today’s must-have products are services and ecosystems. Often, it is powerful companies from the tech and media worlds, operating in the background, who are pulling the strings.

I’d disagree with the author that it was “Apple’s genius”. It is just the shrinking of the electronic components that have made it possible to sell Apple Watch. However, there’s no formal breakdown of its unit sales, so it is impossible to deduce its “success” or “failure”.

One thing that Apple did well was to try testing it in a formal clinical setting and then coax the statistics out of it. I strongly suspect it to be a gatekeeping behaviour on their part because a specific subset of institutions managed to get early access.

I had access to a genomic browser (from NantHealth), way back in 2013-14 when I could immediately perceive its benefits. BlackBerry invested in NantHealth (I don’t know what’s become for both), but that would have been a radical game-changer for personalised genomics for healthcare providers in oncology. It was clearly a lost cause when BlackBerry folded up BB10 OS platform.

Consumer technology isn’t enterprise-grade, and it would be foolhardy to certify it for life and death situations. Due to disjointed reporting and lack of insight/clarity into readings and proprietary controls, it is a lost cause.

CES 2020 would have come and gone, and none of us would be wiser by any stretch of the imagination.

via Why breakout consumer tech hits have become harder to find | Financial Times