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Which Technology Is Headed For the Chop?

Gordon Kelly

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Which Technology Is Headed For the Chop?

Without warning Cisco closed its Flip pocket camcorder business this week. The news was a surprise, but on reflection we should have seen it coming. Even mid-range mobile phones these days offer high quality video recording and simple upload and editing functionality. Which got us thinking: what other products could soon face the technological scrapheap?

Satellite and Cable TV

Sky and Virgin may dominate premium television in the UK, but they will increasingly feel the pressure from Internet-based streaming media. Services like BBC iPlayer, 4oD and ITV Player have become hugely popular with mainstream customers in the last few years and the convenience of on-demand programming from vast online libraries makes even relatively advanced platforms like Virgin's new TiVo digibox look antiquated by comparison.

Naturally onscreen UIs and controllers will need to evolve, but the dawn of phone apps provides a great opportunity for simple, intuitive and powerful virtual remotes. Free services like Freeview could be harder to unseat, but the newly unveiled unified streaming TV service, which will unite the BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4, TalkTalk, Arqiva and Five will have a mighty presence. Especially with Sky's interest already suggesting a sense of 'if you can't beat them, join them'.

Major challenges remain such as advertising and consistently fast and ubiquitous broadband speeds, but the benefits of connecting a TV directly to the Internet should see it win through in the long term.

Digital Cameras

The unshakeable camera enthusiast may never switch, but for the vast majority mobile phones will eventually replace dedicated cameras. There is still some way to go, but the likes of the eight megapixel sensor and Xenon flash used in Sony Ericsson's Cyber-shot C905 gives a glimpse of a future where the compromise in quality will be minimal, especially compared to low and midrange compact cameras.

That said quality isn't the only factor. Handsets have larger screens for immediately viewing your results, a significant benefit for casual snaps when with friends. Handsets also have greater functionality for editing and ubiquitous 3G and WiFi for uploading the results. Even websites play a part. After all mobile phone photos may rarely be good enough to print, but if the low resolution requirements of Facebook are their final location then this matters less.

The only obvious factor that will stopl mobile phones gobbling up that bottom rung of the compact camera market is their lack of a zoom. We've seen the odd concept phone with such a thing but essentially if you want to get a closer view of the action a traditional compact will still have its place.

JDunn

April 17, 2011, 2:37 pm

Curiously, you forgot the biggest of them all, games consoles. No shortage of people who see these being replaced by handheld devices that mimic their power but can be carried around.

The question is whether these will be made by the big three games vendors or based on emerging platforms such as mobile phone operating systems.

Chris

April 18, 2011, 7:29 pm

I like reading Gordon's features, but it took me a while to realise this was his latest work with it having been relegated to the bottom of the home page. I hope he's duly insulted :).

Gordon394

April 19, 2011, 1:26 am

@JDunn - I mentioned them in the conclusion actually ;) But you are right and mobile gaming consoles are being eaten by smartphones.
@Chris - thanks Chris. Kinda ;) Suspect it may have something to do with just two comments being on this feature. I just write them, it is up to Trusted to put them where it wishes. Ed addresses it in comments on the new site that they haven't really worked out what they're doing with features as yet. I'd use one of the two boxes at the top of the page of one of the two boxes in the right hand column personally, but we shall see.

bobsta

April 20, 2011, 2:47 am

Very interesting article. It won't be long until netbooks vanish from the shelves as tablets and smartphones begin to emulate their functionality in a more compact form. Cable and satellite will be here to stay in one form or another as our broadband speeds are pitiful in providing reliable HD streaming to our homes. 3DTV will sink without a trace - it's too costly and a gimmick that will only last another year or two.

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