Let’s Talk About Technology Again
Keeping with the idea of disruptive technology and how any of this stuff ever gets off of the ground….
A while back I had this discussion with regard to electric cars. The idea was proposed that nobody would ever buy a new electric car, because of what they are now referring to as range anxiety. The idea that Kathie and I could head off to Omaha for a little shopping, take in dinner and a movie, maybe meet for drinks with some friends of ours and then only make it back as far as Elmwood, rather than getting all of the way home to Lincoln, again.
It could happen. Today. It’s rare to get more than about 200 miles out of a single charge.
The Cars of Tomorrow
But things are improving. Today’s electric cars are better than even the electrics of just a year ago. And there are charging stations popping all over now, too. You probably don’t notice them, and won’t if you’re not actively looking for them, but they are out there and if you have an electric, you’re taking note of these things, I’m sure. Last time we talked about how hard it must have been to sell radio commercials when nobody had radios. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to convince someone to put in an electric car charger, today? But it’s happening—and somebody knew it would because it happened the last time.
That’s right. A hundred years ago there were no gas stations. Cities got along fine for centuries without a way to pump hydrocarbons by the gallon. But somewhere along the way, people started to notice that those nice new roads were starting to connect just about every place anyone would ever want to go. And more and more people were maybe not trading in their horses for cars but were certainly getting one of those new-fangled automobiles in addition to their horses.
And remember, too, that not everyone uses a car in the same that you or your neighbor does. A lot of people could be very happy with an electric for commuting to work and local shopping and keeping a gasoline burner on the payroll for a few more years for the time when they need to get to Kansas City or Denver or Chicago. But the day will come when people will be able to make those trips in all-electric cars, too. Bet on it. In the meantime, we may see companies come (like Tesla) and go (like Fisker) but the idea of a better electric car is probably one that will be with us for a long, long time.
How About Them TVs? That Couldn’t Have Been Easy
Once a convincing case has been made for a new tech, people will adjust to it even if they don’t enthusiastically flock to it. Along the way there may be fits and starts—we don’t see many of those huge satellite dishes in folks’ yards any longer the way we did in the 1980s. But HDTV took over pretty well once the manufacturers figured out whether we should be going with plasma or some other technology. I can remember a lot of worried looks on a lot of faces at Best Buy and at Circuit City back in the olden days, as people argued back and forth about image burn-in “…but I watch a lot of CNBC. Will the stock price crawl leave a ghost at the bottom of the screen with this kind of TV the way it will with that kind?” and “Should I get LED or LCD? And what’s the difference?” and on and on. Once those early-adopter hurdles were jumped and all of the manufacturing went one way or the other the prices really started to come down and now it’s hard to find a house without HDTV. But there was a day when a legitimate question would be “Why would get a TV like this, if nobody is broadcasting this kind of a signal for it, yet?”
And the world keeps turning.
In my little corner of the world, people with MacStuff complain because the cords and plugs they have used for a hundred years no longer work on the next new and improved models coming into the Apple Stores. I’m okay with that. I understand that we can’t jam as many dots and dashes down a telegraph line as we can the cable we use to connect an iPhone to an iMac. As long as I keep getting more for my money, I’m good.