I have to admit I am a little intrigued by the whole “2012-Mayan-calendar-end-of-the-world” thing. Not that I think it will actually happen, but I do love bold predictions. I would agree that life as we know it (or used to know it) is ending. Along with changes in human behavior come the end of things we once considered crucial to our existence. Here are some things you have become used to that will soon see their own apocalypse:
Cash. Forget about the Benjamin’s – cash is dead. Why? If you lose your wallet you lose your cash; making change is slow; you’re a target for mugging; you frequently need to find an ATM. Debit cards eliminate those inconveniences. Aside from garage sales, stadium parking and babysitters – you can use cards anywhere. Devices such as the “Square” card reader will make it easy for anyone to accept cards for payment. Eventually a “card-swipe” slot will be built into your phone.
Remote Controls and Keyboards. There is a significant increase in devices that provide some level of voice-controlled interaction. Apple’s “Siri” is the latest push in that direction. You no longer need to type on your smartphone with “talk to text.” Why not your TV? I can hear it now – “TV, please play season 2 of The Jefferson’s.” Oh yeah, movin’ on up!
Driving. Google received the first set of patents for the first self-driving car earlier this year. Why Google? Because they used self-driving cars when building Google maps. Cars already parallel park themselves, and isn’t that really the hardest part of driving? The government can ban cell phone use while driving, but it’s never going to stop. With a self-driving car you can strap in, log on, and relax. You will be delivered safe and sound to your destination without ever needing to look up from your screen.
DVD’s. Subscription based entertainment services like Netflix and Hulu are leading the assault on the shiny discs we were so enamored with just a decade ago. Physical disc rental seems silly when I can just click a button (or talk to) my TV and watch anything I want. The only thing stopping internet-connected movie services from completely killing DVD’s is that the movie studios haven’t figured out how to get a big enough piece of the pie to release their entire collections to online availability. That will change too when each studio offers their movies for rental on their own “channels.”
Wires. WiFi is the unseen King of the digital age. We connect to our devices and to each other without plugging in. Soon our devices will follow our lead and connect to each other without wires, and without requiring any set up. They will still need a power source (for now) – but your TV, computer, stereo, phone, speakers will talk to each other through the air. Jambox wireless speakers are a great example.
Flat tires. Bridgestone and Michelin are both releasing tube-free, air-free tires. Once something like that hits the market, competitors will certainly imitate and attempt to improve the design. Not good for gas stations charging to pump your tires, but great for motorists who can avoid dangerous and tedious situations on the road.
Battery Chargers. My watch never needs a battery because it winds as I swing my arm. Can someone please figure out how to do the same thing for my phone? Thanks.
What is the driving force for these changes? Is Necessity still the mother of invention? Maybe – but Convenience, Efficiency, and Low-Cost are certainly the father, brother, and sister. As business continues to evolve in this new world it is important to ask yourself, “does my business approach provide convenience, efficiency, and savings?” If not, you might soon be as obsolete as a stone-carved calendar.