When what is known as the first mobile phone, the DynaTAC 8000X, aka “The Brick,” was sold for $4,000 to the busy and wealthy of 1984, no one believed that it would gain in popularity as quickly as it did. Around 1,200 sold in the first year the device was released, and corporations started to demand them as a necessity for business. Not only did this anomaly of an invention exceed expectations, it also victimized the once-popular and original commercialized cell phone:
The car phone.
Six years later, millions of people owned cell phones. The number of cell phone subscriptions more than quadrupled in the early 1990s, and it’s safe to say that car phone sales did not. The average person has never owned a car phone, but they more than likely have plugged their mobile phone into their car.
Inventions like the laptop, cell phone, and tablet have had a history of pushing aside well-known and well-loved technologies that we thought would never go in a short period of time. When a dial-up internet connection was all we knew, we never imagined it would be replaced by higher speed connections (but aren’t we glad it was?).
That isn’t to say people aren’t still using a dial-up connection or a car phone. Three percent of adults still use dial-up, and many new vehicles are being manufactured with hands-free bluetooth installed now that cell phone use while driving has become illegal in certain parts of the country and frowned upon in others. There will always be at least one person within a few blocks of you that actively uses their record player.
Still, in only one generation we have gone from bricks to smartphones that fit in the little pockets your jeans. Movies, of course, we now stream online. In an age where “the new iPhone” is a common phrase and there are tablets tailored for toddlers, there’s a good chance many 20-somethings in 2020 won’t purchase CDs or rely completely on their cell phone to connect them with the world.
New inventions are leaving a mountain of mechanical waste in their wake. Here are just a few of the predictions for the next products to bite the dust by the end of the decade:
Yes, credit cards. While there are still a few experts that think the swipe will always be a part of retail culture, there’s been a strong argument circulating for the past few years supporting the eventual demise of credit cards.
America is actually pretty behind in currency technology; many European countries have almost abandoned magnetic strips in favor of microchips in cards and smartphone scans at the register. With digital wallets like Wocket and Coin, which enable you to combine all of your cards into one easy-to-use and widely compatible card, reducing card use to nothing in ten years is definitely possible.
Low-End Digital Cameras
It’s pretty obvious: smartphones have almost killed, if not greatly reduced, the use of digital cameras on a non-professional level. Cell phones like the Nokia Lumia are centered around the production of a great built-in camera, and other cell phone manufacturers are rising to the challenge.
Most smartphones and tablets have the ability to create a pretty decent picture without sacrificing the quality of their other features, and even many flip phones have decent cameras. Why purchase a digital camera if you have a cell phone camera and don’t plan on selling your photos or starting a photography business?
The e-reader certainly made a splash since its birth in the early 2000s, but has seen a dramatic decline in sales for the last few years. Why? Tablets and smartphones… again. Built-in e-book reading programs like the Kindle app have made literature lovers skip having to choose between keeping their books close and the enjoyment of not lugging around more than one device.
Still, there are obvious benefits to purchasing a device for your books if you are a voracious reader. E-ink screens are far easier on the eyes than traditional tablet screens. The potential for a hybrid screen, allowing users to flip between e-ink and regular led viewing, though, would be the final nail in the coffin of dedicated ereaders. It’s technology that has been in development for some time, making it quite likely that we’ll see it sooner than later.
While the idea that anyone isn’t on the iOS or Android bandwagon is ghastly to most techies, more than a third of American citizens are still using feature phones. Their longer battery life, simpler designs, and cost efficiency keep them in demand for many people just trying to streamline their life or keep a cell phone as a house phone.
However, recent releases in technology have improved the use of smartphones for all of those qualities, making smartphones an easier, less expensive, and more attractive choice every year. Plug-free battery chargers and easy-to-use interfaces are much more commonplace in less expensive smartphones, causing many more flip-phoners to spend next to nothing extra to switch to an older model smartphone. It won’t be long before there’s no switch to be made in the first place.
Land-Line Home Phones
What was once the necessity of every household is now a swiftly disintegrating piece of technology. Not 5-10 years ago, a landline phone was a tool for communication that was essential to connecting to family, friends, and work.
The youngest generation of Americans has been opting out of a home phone lately, however, with only a third of heads of households ages 30 and below using only a landline phone for communication. With children now growing up in home phone-less homes, the likelihood of the next generation using a cell phone or some other internet-based calling feature as their only mode of vocal communication at home is extremely high.
Video Game Consoles
No, videogame consoles aren’t going to disappear completely, but they will cease to exist in the way we’ve always known them. For years, game consoles played video games. That’s it. We were fine with that for a while, until smartphone, tablet, and PC games started to occupy our brains for much longer spans. Game consoles like the Xbox 360 had to conform; they became entertainment machines with connections to search engines, movies, and social media, hence becoming as much of a videogame console as your laptop.
In ten years, there may be devices that play video games better than others, but their new names will probably scream “not just a game console!” Another reason: streaming is only going to get more popular. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo could well end up running games streaming services instead of offering dedicated consoles.
Standalone GPS Devices
GPS devices are another victim of the smartphone, but they aren’t dying as quickly as the low-end digital camera. While smartphones are great for quick GPS directions to the nearest gas station, they can be a problem when your map doesn’t load in the middle of Nowhere, Idunno due to bad reception. However, the number of cell towers in the U.S. has been growing in the thousands every year, creating better reception in more locations. Cars are increasingly being built in a GPS right in the dashboard, solving the “my suction won’t stick!” problem.
Right now, the standalone GPS is still a crowd favorite among long distance travelers, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
Wired Home Internet
This technology will go extinct in 10 years for obvious reasons. Consumers are only going to put up with wires stapled into the floor boards and plugged into walls for so long. Wi-Fi technology has become more popular in an extremely short time, and connections are faster and more consistent than ever.
Many devices, like the Lenovo X81, have no Ethernet port and provide a smoother, thinner appearance because of their absence. If you’re always on the go, you may find that you seldom use the Ethernet port you have; Wi-Fi is readily available in most locations. And with fewer and fewer households using desktop computers, the need for wired home internet will also drop
CDs And DVDs
The use of CDs and DVDs has been rumored to dissolve several times, yet they’re still holding strong… sort of. The popularity of digital downloads and movie streaming has taken an obvious toll on those silvery disks. CDs have definitely taken a nose dive, but the novelty of the ‘90s has actually slightly increased CD sales. DVDs are still being widely purchased, though many of them are more likely to be found in $5 and under containers than on the shelves.
With game consoles and entertainment systems now being built exclusively for media other than CDs and DVDs, it’s only a matter of time before buying them will be like purchasing a cassette: a cool, nostalgic act spurred from a flighty desire to hold a bit of history, or a sign that you still haven’t stopped wearing your pager on your overalls (over your turtleneck).
CD And DVD Players
And with the demise of CDs and DVDs will come the extinction of CD and DVD players. It’s a bit of a cop-out, but no less true than the other entries on the list. Sure, there are still systems being created with CD capability, like the BOSE Wave® music system III, or Blu-ray players that also play DVDs. Dedicated CD players, portable or otherwise, and dedicated DVD players have almost vanished from the market however.
The #1 best DVD player of 2014 according to toptenreviews.com, Toshiba SD7300, was created almost five years ago and still includes tons more features than the traditional DVD player. It wouldn’t be false to assume CD and DVD playing capabilities will be a scarcely found feature 5 years from now.