Their pulse is weak, their breathing labored … but the heartbeat of certain technology trends is lingering on, despite a flat line appearing imminent. As we welcome in the new year, we’re examining five ailing technologies that may not live to see 2015:
1. Video cameras—Considering that there are more than 1 billion smartphone users worldwide with a built-in video camera in their back pocket, it’s easy to understand why consumers no longer want to drop cash on a standalone camcorder. And beyond the financial investment, a camcorder is just one more thing to lug along when it’s so much easier and convenient to simply whip out an iPhone or Droid. Giving the camcorder its last breath are those who crave more advanced features such as optical zoom, focus and exposure controls, support for external microphones, and boundless storage via flash media.
2. DVDs and Blu-ray — If you’ve somehow missed the gradual disappearance of neighborhood video stores such as Blockbuster (which filed for bankruptcy in 2010), then you’ve probably at least recognized this fact: it’s become a major inconvenience to get off the couch on a Friday night. And there’s no longer a reason to, thanks to the rise of streaming content and Internet viewing. With easy accessibility to video-on-demand from cable providers, coupled with the presence of video streaming options like Netflix and Hulu, it’s now an unwelcome hassle for consumers to venture beyond one's own living room in the quest for entertainment. The days of wandering down a video store aisle perusing movie titles in plastic DVD cases are numbered.
3. Fax machines — A once-essential office device, the fax machine is a dying breed due to today’s widespread access to email, instant messaging and the ability to send fax transmissions by computer. However, while electronic signatures have become perfectly acceptable in many businesses, some sectors still assume a faxed autograph to be more legitimate. As such, the analog machine limps on, with purchases down 14 percent between 2011 and 2012.
4. Pagers —The ultimate status symbol of the 90s, the pager has been essentially replaced by the cell phone — almost. By eliminating the need to run to a pay phone to return a page, as well as providing the ability to receive texts and voice messages, the mobile phone clearly has the edge. However, when it comes to reliability, pagers are still far superior to cell phones, radiating more power and offering a far wider coverage area. Until cell phones can deliver this level of reliability in venues such as hospitals and on desolate back road highways, pagers will continued to be used by doctors, EMTs, firefighters and others required to respond quickly to emergencies.
5. PDAs —Once the coolest tool in town, the stylus-driven PDA has had a hard time keeping up its high-tech image with the invention of the smartphone. Dell dropped out of the market in 2007, followed by Palm in 2009. While HP still manufactures the devices, the company only ships about 100,000 units worldwide each year, according to IDC. However, a number of vertical markets still use PDAs for data collection in places such as warehouses and hospitals.