Two gloomy views on consumer tech

Via @ModeledBehavior, one is by Alexis Madrigal and from Atlantic Monthly, excerpt:

On the mobile side, we’re working with almost the exact same toolset that we had on the 2007 iPhone, i.e. audio inputs, audio outputs, a camera, a GPS, an accelerometer, Bluetooth, and a touchscreen. That’s the palette that everyone has been working with — and I hate to say it, but we’re at the end of the line. The screen’s gotten better, but when’s the last time you saw an iPhone app do something that made you go, “Whoa! I didn’t know that was possible!?”

Those are high (and somewhat impatient) standards.  How about this line?:

…I think we’re into the mobile social fin de siècle.

What about making Siri better, or real on-line education through an iPad?  Nonetheless the article makes many excellent points, for instance about the increasing obsession with filling out niches, or this point:

I return to Jeff Hammerbacher’s awesome line about developers these days: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

Via Noah Smith, here is Ashlee Vance from Bloomberg, and here is his subtitle:

Tech bubbles happen, but we usually gain from the innovation left behind. This one—driven by social networking—could leave us empty-handed

And this bit:

“My fear is that Silicon Valley has become more like Hollywood,” says Glenn Kelman, chief executive officer of online real estate brokerage Redfin, who has been a software executive for 20 years. “An entertainment-oriented, hit-driven business that doesn’t fundamentally increase American competitiveness.”

In relative terms, those two make me look like a tech optimist, not just about the more distant future (which has always been the case), but about the present as well.


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