By Suzanne Kantra
If there's one thing that's predictable in the technology world, it's that things change. Products that were commonplace ten years ago (PDAs, CRT televisions, fax machines) are quickly fading with the sands of time.
Today, there are many products we take for granted that will likely be dead in five years. Whether their features are being subsumed by other products or they are falling victim to changing business models, their days are numbered. Sure you may still find some quaint reminders in the back of SkyMall's Late Spring 2016 catalog, but for all intents and purposes they will be gone.
In-car portable navigation systems
Why they’re going extinct: Today, portable navigations devices from Garmin, TomTom and Magellan are a common sight on car dashboards and windshields. But everything the portable navigation systems can do, smartphones can do as well, if not better. And one of the best smartphone nav apps, Google Maps Navigation, is free. So it should be no surprise that portable navigation system sales dropped 22 percent in 2010. And it should be no surprise in five years when they’re gone entirely.
Why they’re going extinct: Ultra-fast broadband connections are becoming much more common in the home. According to Speedtest.net, average download speeds in the U.S. are now over 11 megabits per second. That means programs can be downloaded in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. So why would you want to pay the extra cost of having a DVD printed, boxed and shipped to your home? You wouldn’t. And in five years it won’t even be an option.
Why they’re going extinct: Wireless Internet access in homes will continue to be big business, but buying a wireless router in a store won’t be. Instead, your wireless capabilities will be packaged with the box your broadband Internet provider — cable, fiber, satellite — installs in your home. And as high-speed 4G cellular services roll out, more people will use their smartphones for broadband Internet, eliminating the need for a wireless router entirely.
Why they’re going extinct: Smaller, lighter and cheaper than a laptop, the netbook was briefly a good choice for people looking for a cheap portable way to get on the Internet. But with an anemic processor and tiny display, netbooks were an imperfect solution. Today, you can buy a compact notebook with a fast processor and six or more hours of battery life for small premium over a netbook. Plus, tablets are much better tailored to those needing simple Web browsing, entertainment and light computing functions. Where does that leave netbooks? Nowhere.
Why they’re going extinct: E-readers, including the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, are hugely popular devices. With e-ink displays that are easy to read outdoors, and the low power consumption that means much longer battery life, they are the perfect reading devices. But tablet computers, like the iPad, can do so much more. Barnes & Noble has jumped into the tablet game with the Nook Color, which has a special anti-glare LCD screen and can now run selected Android apps, and many expect Amazon to be next. Battery life on color tablets still can't compete with that of e-readers, but it will continue to get better. Five years from now there will be tablets oriented toward e-reading, but the black-and-white e-ink readers will be gone.
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