What do 3D, Sony Mini Disks, and 4G all have in common? They are arguably one of the most expensive tech failures of the 20th and 21st Century.
Let us first look at the earliest invention mentioned above, that is of course the Sony Mini Disk. Billed as a replacement to the tape cassette, and an improvement on the compact disk, this little post-it-note shaped item dug itself an early grave due to the fact that the equipment needed was expensive, and record companies never supported it, meaning that the only way you could get your media onto Mini Disk was by taking it off CD, and burning it onto Mini Disk in real-time. Not exactly an improvement in just using a CD in the first place!
The second invention hit the silver screens first, before moving into the homes of people who had more money than sense, and that is the technology of 3D. 3D, although not dead yet, arguably has a limited lifespan remaining, as the number of film goers who choose to pay the 3D tax at the cinema decreases, choosing to view the 2D alternative for a cheaper ticket price, and with the added bonus of not having to wear the uncomfortable glasses. 3D technology came after the HD TV boom, and as such would be a new feature added to new TV’s, not a feature that could be added to newly purchased TV’s which were just a few months old. This factor alone, forcing those who wanted to watch what limited 3D TV content was out there, would have to invest in yet another TV, and pay upwards of £75 per pair of glasses to watch one or two programmes.
Finally we have the invention of 4G, the technology that allows users on their mobile phones to get speeds which are in many cases faster than their broadband connections at home. An Ofcom report states that up-to a quarter of smart phone users have no intention to use 4G technology.
There are of course two main reasons for this. First of which is the price.
As with all new technology the price for 4G is extortionate, and as with many packages out there are capped with the amount of data you are permitted to download. The danger of having a faster connection is that you are able to use your quota quicker, and thus either be without any data for the remainder of the month, or be persuaded to buy more data at an inflated price.
The second biggest reason is that this service is not really necessary. EE, a company who up until a few weeks/months ago had exclusive 4G coverages across major parts of the UK stated that you could download HD films on the go, or entire albums of music within a few seconds. All technically impressive, but practically useless! Who really needs to download an HD film on their mobile, and whats more, who is going to watch an HD film on a 5/6 inch screen?
4G providers are advertising 4G as the replacement of 3G, but the truth of the matter is that 3G is perfect for what people need in today’s world. 3G was an improvement on the abysmal speeds we had over Edge, and we ultimately owe the rise of the smartphone to this technology, 4G doesn’t really add anything extra. 3G downloads Google Maps, it allows users to tweet and update Facebook status messages, and even watch the odd YouTube video. Yes the speed is not blisteringly fast, but its good enough for on the go, and has even been fast enough to tether from at home when there has been a broadband outage. You may be able to get speeds which are quicker than your home broadband speed on the go, but why would you want it, and why would you want to pay 3 times the price to get it?
There are several high-profile rumours that Apple is going to announce a new iPhone on or around the 10th of September, which will no doubt feature 4G, and so the mobile phone providers will undoubtedly create new packages for this new device, and push the consumer to get 4G even if they don’t want it. However as costs of using this new technology are likely to remain high, if I get the new phone, I am more likely than not going to stay on my current SIM only deal, and get the iPhone unlocked from Apple direct. Although the phone is likely to be a bit more expensive, in the long run it will save me money as I wont be paying for services which I wont be using.