Markets – Macro – Technicals

Technology Cycle Hitting a Brick Wall?

Tech CyleFull disclosure: I’m a huge $AAPL fan, love their products. I’m also a technology geek especially if it helps me be more productive in life. The web and ancillary products have vastly improved our ability to communicate, launch new businesses (like this one) and find global marketing and distribution channels. And much of our economy over the past 30 years has vastly benefited from a massive technology cycle that has led to ever more capable products that people were willing to shell out massive amounts of money for. Considering that every single technology product we have ever purchased has a resale value close to $0 five years after purchase that’s quite a feat.

For most people the big positive drivers have been the amazing advancements in consumer products in personal computing, smartphones and tablets. Then it got a bit quiet and the big technology companies started excelling in improving upon existing products, but little else.

Hence the thirst for something new had been building. Technology is improving so greatly after all. Phones and tablets got larger and smaller, better screen resolutions, thinner, faster, better processors etc. But what’s the next cycle that is as impactful on behavior and growth?

The answer we heard for months now was: Wearable devices. Smart watches. And the appetite was wetted with amazing and cool looking designs that popped up all over the place:

Spread template 2011 iw3 iw2 iw

Take your pick, dozens of device ideas were floating around. Then various company started launching actual smart watches. Motorola being one of them. I won’t even bother to show pictures of these devices, they frankly looked dismal. So all eyes were on $AAPL yesterday. Surely something stunning was to come from the design leader that brought us the iPhone and the tablet. Instead we got this:

Iwatchiwatch3

Consider me underwhelmed. I recognize it’s a 1st generation product and I don’t want to sound like a spoiled 21st century schmuck, but what’s the driving need to have it? What can I do with it that I can’t do with something else, i.e. my phone? Now granted the sensors may be cool and useful to use for fitness applications, but seriously for anything else any existing smart phone will do a better job. Gaming? Mapping? Really?

Yes I make fun on twitter, but the larger issue is this: What’s the next big thing? What will drive growth for years to come? Across the board the best designer minds appear to be the ones that are not actually in charge to building a product. And this may just be the crux of the issue: Our imagination is better than what can currently be produced and this leaves us disappointed perhaps, spoiled definitely and now technology companies are chasing a public that may not be willing to shell out big bucks for little incremental added value.

And if this is true one has to wonder if the technology cycle has hit a big brick wall for a while and is reduced to improving what we already have: Phones, computers, TVs and now watches, but no new big thing.

Now clearly people will upgrade their existing devices as they have been doing and that will continue to create vast revenue and profit streams for companies like $AAPL. But our stock market model is based on growth and QE and growth is not achieved by a replacement cycle.

But for now it looks the latest advancement is that I can pay for my Apple watch with my Apple phone instead of my credit card. Yay.

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