With the recent flurry of online innovation and high profile tech IPO’s – it almost feels like we’re on to round two of the dot-com boom. However, amid all of the flashy new apps, tech start ups, and hyped IPOs, we must remember that not all of these companies will be winners. It’s unlikely that there will be a success as big as Google, or a failure as big as Pets.com – but we’re bound to see a variety of results in between over the next 5-10 years.

Here are my predictions for technologies that will be sustainable and long lived, and for those that will turn out to be nothing more than high tech hula hoops.


Video Conferencing (Apple’s Face Time): Fad.

The first video conferencing technology was pioneered in the 1980’s and has never appealed to the mass market. It’s somewhat sad, but after the novelty wears off, the truth is we just don’t like looking at each other that much.


Location Based Mobile Apps: Sustainable

Whether its hackers in China stealing our credit card numbers, or publicized nude photos of a lascivious government official, not a day goes by without a news story centered on privacy concerns. Older generations, in general, are extremely worried about maintaining their privacy. Younger generations are not – and they won’t think twice about continuing to put more of their personal information (like their physical location) online.


Photo Sharing: Partially Sustainable

Somehow it’s become socially required for new parents to amass a nearly un-reviewable volume of family photos. This over-documentation, which will someday haunt all children born after the invention of the digital camera, will continue to fuel the development of more advanced photo sharing technologies. That being said, the photo sharing space (in current state) is comically crowded and a consolidation is inevitable.


Facebook: Fad

This one may be controversial. You could probably find a myriad of statistics suggesting that Facebook is thriving and growing every day – and I don’t doubt that it is. What I do know is that after a while it gets old and tedious to hang on the insignificant details of your friends lives. Facebook will always be around, however I think it will soon fade from a vibrant social network into more of a glorified online phone book.


Apple Mobile Phones: Fad

I really hope this one is not true – I think Apple products are elegantly designed and a pleasure to use. However it does not take much imagination to predict Google’s open source Android platform racing past Apple’s iOS, just like PC’s raced past Apple computers in the 1990’s.


What do you think? Are there any technologies that you predict to be sustainable or fads?

Fads vs. Sustainable Technologies – Predictions for the Future
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  • Andrew

    One more thing – QR Codes: Definitely a fad

    QR Codes are ugly.

    I overheard a father in a bagel shop recently explaining to his 8 year old son that someday there will be QR codes everywhere. I almost turned around to argue with him right there. I believe QR codes (at least in current state) will all but disappear once RFID technology becomes economical and usable with cell phones.

  • There are two dimensions to what we end up calling a fad. The first, and often overlooked, is the driver that makes so many individuals and organizations dive into the technology puddle. Without that driver, the “irrational exuberance” as Greenspan called it, there would be no great bubble to burst, only a steady growth of the technology as users looked closely, found it useful and adopted it.
    The second, of course, is what might be called the “fatigue factor” or, as Andrew identified in video conferencing, the realization that we really don’t want or need to see each other all that much.
    Today’s bubble is the PDA or smart phone with all those apps, 3-4G, high res screen, yah dah yah dah. While these are surely valuable in some circumstances, we are seeing literally millions of people buying the next new device… even though many already the version just past with nearly as much capability. That is irrational given the prices asked for the new devices, and will surely succumb to the fatigue factor. When it does, the bubble won’t pop but will seriously deflate.