November 8, 2003

Slowdown

John C Dvorak has a long, rambling column where he’s trying to pin down the latest of what’s OUT and what’s IN in the world of technology. 802.11b is OUT, 802.11g is IN. That sort of thing. Mostly the column reads like filler, like the deadline was getting close so he knocked out a quick piece asking for reader feedback. But in the last line he really hits on a nugget of something.

The fast pace of technology is OUT, and the new slow pace is IN.

Ain’t that the truth. The 80’s and 90’s were punctuated by the Next Big Thing only being a couple of weeks away, followed by the Next Even Bigger Thing a couple of weeks later. Processors were getting faster, memory was getting cheaper, hard drives were getting larger, modems and CD-ROMs were getting faster. Everything kept moving forwards, sometimes at exponential rates. Microsoft came out with five versions of Windows in as many years. Video cards went from 4 colors to 8 to 16 to 256 to 16 million. Processors went from 3MHz to 3,000. Everything was booming.

But then it all stopped dead in its tracks. CD-ROMs hit 56x, and stayed there. Video cards were able to render any image with 16 million colors, so they stopped. Modems topped out at 56k, and cable modems are stuck in the 1-3Mbit range. A new version of Windows comes out every three or four years. In other areas the numbers keep climbing, but the gains mean less now. What is the difference between 2.5GHz and 3GHZ, really? I’m pretty sure it’s not worth $200. Are you really going to fill up a 120GB hard drive faster than a 160GB? Unless you’re doing DV, no. The “latest” web standards are three to four years old.

Things have hit a plateau in the computer industry, and it’s a pretty comfortable one. I won’t mind hanging out here for a bit. It’s nice to have a chance to stop and catch your breath, and to know that the computers I’m buying now wont be obsolete by Christmas.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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