Home Technology: We’re In Control Now
A few months ago, Google Glass opened a very snazzy store in my neighbourhood. It looked like an opticians run by supermodels. Each time I went in I found a few people trying out Google Glass then beating a hasty retreat. They didn’t even stay for the free coffee. I tried them and found them cumbersome and pointless. Worse, they seemed intrusive to me and to other people. This lack of instinctive use seems to have been felt by all who tried the technology. The shop has already disappeared, and Google Glass has crashed.
It’s a good example of the public deciding that they didn’t want this new technology, and I wonder if the same fate won’t affect the Apple Watch. There has been a run on the super high-end models, which suggests that people with fat wallets and low self-esteem are buying them to show off, but anecdotal evidence suggests that people don’t want to have a watch that they need to co-ordinate with their phone (a lot of people don’t seem to realise that it’s not a stand-alone wi-fi product but must be operated via an iPhone).
The Kindle is a wonderful device that I find makes me read twice as many books as before. It also encourages me to buy more physical books, particularly large volumes which are simply too unwieldy to read on a crowded tube train. But its sales are slowing in the UK because it appears to have hit its maximum market. Some readers refuse to accept the idea of it, while others like me use it in conjunction with regular books. The iPod Classic has been discontinued, but public demand is now forcing up secondhand sales and prices are soaring on eBay because it’s a device we really like using, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it returns. 3D movies have all but vanished now, and China and India, who were sold the hardware by America, have been stranded without product to show.
It feels as if there has been a distinct change in consumer technology; after two decades of being in thrall to technology a new generation has realised that home tech doesn’t own us, that Apple presentations are simply selling tools, that nobody is perfect and that computer technology doesn’t have to rule our lives. If you don’t have a direct need to use something, you don’t have to use it – and that puts the power back into the consumer’s hands. A growing interest in crafts is also reducing our thrall to technology.
I still burn CDs of everything I buy because sometimes iTunes deletes my files for no reason I or anyone else can figure out, so I can at least re-upload tracks from a hard copy when they’ve been lost. I remain addicted to DVDs, although I use iPlayer, Netflix and Flixster too. The main reason is because home entertainment delivery systems remain stubbornly Hollywood-oriented, and I can’t find half the films I want to see on any format other than DVD. Last night I watched ‘Septimo’, a terrific thriller from Buenos Aires about an abduction, but according to most databases it doesn’t exist. I bought a cheap copy in a Spanish store.
Perhaps we’ll also come to realise that home and wearable tech is just another product, and not the most exciting thing for kids to base their spare time around; there’s a world out there to explore.