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5 Technologies That Just Might Be Extinct By the End of 2011


Remember 8-track players? Typewriters? How about dial-up modems and VHS tapes?

Relics all, they are mementos of earlier technology that time has passed by.  In their day, though, each stood as a triumph of the latest, greatest technology. Do you miss them? We didn’t think so.

With that cautionary tale in mind, BusinessNewsDaily decided to cap off the year on a nostalgic note by taking a look at current technologies that are part of our daily life to see which of them might be ready to jump the shark in the near future. We turned to a number of experts in technology and came up with this highly arbitrary list of candidates for the 2011 Technology Death Pool. Let the debate begin.

Cable TV

Even when peace reigns between cable TV companies and the content providers, and we’re allowed to bask in 200-plus channels of content that ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime, we have an uneasy relationship at best with our cable providers . In most markets they have a monopoly and viewers face a  take-it-or-leave-it choice. The alternative is rabbit ears and a digital converter.

Jay Levy, a principal at Zelkova Ventures, a venture capital firm with a technology bent , said the convergence of TV and the Internet is going to level the playing field in television distribution.

We’ll still have a cable leading to our homes and apartments, but it’ll be piping in the cornucopia of content that is the Internet. “People are fed up at this point,” Levy told BusinessNewsDaily. “You’ll continue to see a speeding up of convergence of TV and the computer. You have legitimate players like Apple coming after this market who want to democratize TV. People are already making the transition. I don’t think we’re going to miss anything. It’s going to be better and we’re going to be paying less. Is there anything we miss from black-and-white TV?”

Landline Telephones

POTS (plain old telephone service), with its drooping wires all over the place, is a tired old critter that deserves to be put out to pasture. That’s the sentiment, at least, of the millions of mobile users who have made their devices the telecommunications standard bearer here and abroad. Anyone with an older home who has tried to puzzle out its network of hidden telephone wires will agree that it’s time to cut the cord.

One in four households in the U.S. no longer has a landline connection and AT&T has petitioned the FCC to set a date for the extinction of landlines. Clearly, it’s technology whose time has passed. In the future, experts say, our home phone service most likely will be mobile or piped into our homes along with our Internet. The conventional justification for maintaining landlines was that you didn’t lose service if your electric power went out.

“Power outages are so infrequent that people don’t even remember them,” said Stowe Boyd, a social philosopher and webthropologist who has abandoned landlines altogether. “The younger generation will never use landlines at all.”

Laptop Computers AKA Notebooks

Laptop computers have long been a technology albatross around the road warrior’s neck.  Many see them as being the worst of two worlds, trapped in limbo between powerful desktops and highly portable smartphones.  Eventually, businesses will provide desktop computers in the office for productivity applications and mobile phones for workers away from their desk, said Khalid Muhammad, the Pakistan-based group managing director of the emagine group.

“With the massive growth of smartphones that do everything from taking pictures to handling MS Office documents, I don’t see people and businesses alike bothering to purchase laptops anymore,”  Muhammad told BusinessNewsDaily. “As cloud computing grows more and more acceptable, more companies will start making their technologies, applications and data more mobile. Especially when you look at the massive acceptance of the iPhone and BlackBerry, people have already started to move in that direction, but the final push will be when cloud computing takes a firm hold in corporate environments.”

Hard Drives

Laptops won’t be the only casualty if the cloud establishes data storage and processing dominance. The whole idea of cloud computing drives a stake through the heart of the concept of keeping your information stored locally on a failure-prone device such as a hard drive.

“We will move everything to the cloud, with only a local cache in our PCs,” webthropologist Boyd told BusinessNewsDaily. “I don’t want to have to buy another hard drive. You’ve got to fudge around with them. It’s all bad. What if my hard disk crashed?”

And crash they do, as Boyd and legions of users know  from firsthand experience.

“The only thing that saved me was my back-up cloud,” he said. “These guys are much less likely to have a catastrophic failure than I am.”

Desktop Operating System (OS)/Browser

Convergence in computing seems to be getting enough traction now to make it a real possibility rather than a pipe dream.  It’s not just the convergence of TV and the Internet or the melding of devices such as the latest generation of smartphones. It’s now getting under the hood with your computer’s operating system and the browser that you use as your window to the online world. It can get confusing, even to the initiated. Take Google’s Chrome browser. The engineers in Mountain View, Calif., home of Google, are also developing an OS called Chrome. Which is which? And does it matter?

“The desktop OS will soon be replaced by a minimalistic OS, which is just a browser,” said Girish Lakshminarayana, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Klea Global, a technology firm. “The Google Chrome OS is a step in this direction. You could say this affects all the other technologies that are related to the standard desktop, including the browser and instant messenger (IM). The browser and IM will combine and will enable true real-time exchange and presence. The IM will acquire browsing capabilities. I better be right, because I have founded a company based on this theory, WebtoIM.”

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.