Which technologies are likely to die in 2016?

The pace of technological change seems to be accelerating more rapidly than ever, and today's winning technology can end up on the scrap heap of history tomorrow. Usually we cover up-and-coming hot new technologies here on the Plug blog, but as we look ahead to 2016, it's worth thinking about some of the old technologies that are past their prime and are most likely to die.

Windows XP: Ever since Microsoft announced in April 2014 that it would no longer support the Windows XP operating system, but as of mid-2015, according to data from Kaspersky Labs and Net Applications, 16 to 17 percent of computer users were still using Windows XP. iPods: Now that smartphones exist, most people see no need for a dedicated music player. As of Q4 2013, the iPod only made up 2 percent of Apple's revenue, and that number has shrunk considerably since then.

Blackberry: This company was a trailblazer back in its heyday, and it recorded the great innovation of making the world comfortable with mobile email, but the company doesn't seem to be rebounding any time soon. Blackberry OS has only 0.3 percent market share, and CEO John Chen's future vision is to remake the company as a software company that just happens to make handsets, as described in this article.

Windows Phone: This is another smartphone platform that can't seem to compete with the iPhone. According to this article, as of July 2015, Windows Phone OS had only 3.4 percent of the mobile market – not much better than Blackberry. And Microsoft wrote off its Nokia investment in July 2015. Apple Music: Massive hype, massive disappointment. Spotify's streaming music app just works better – and many Apple users were dismayed by the bugs and usability problems in Apple Music. It's too soon to say that Apple has failed at streaming music – but the launch of Apple Music does not give a lot of confidence.

Apple Watch: This was another 2015 product launch from Apple that was massively hyped, but no one knows for sure if the product is really a success, because Apple hasn't announced any product-specific sales numbers for the Apple Watch. Another sign of concern for the Apple Watch is that Apple's first shot at a mainstream wearable device – with applications for health and fitness – has not appeared to have reduced the market share of Fitbit, the leading wearable device for fitness tracking. Maybe the world isn't quite ready for a smartwatch? Or maybe it turns out that people prefer to have dedicated wearable devices for fitness goals? Or maybe people are underwhelmed by what the Apple Watch can do – for now. Perhaps future updated versions and expanded capabilities will make the Apple Watch a must-have item in the wearable device market.

Tidal Streaming and Pono Music Player: Tidal is a new music streaming service launched with great fanfare by a group of famous musicians including Jay-Z and Madonna, and meant to be a competitor with Spotify – but Tidal has already made this list of dying technologies. The Pono Music Player is a standalone music player device that was developed by musician Neil Young and raised $2 million on Kickstarter, promising to deliver higher-quality sound, but most listeners can't tell the difference and the Pono player has been harshly criticized by music industry experts. Who needs an expensive separate device? And who cares about getting a more limited selection of streaming music from a service that happens to be co-owned by Jay-Z and Madonna, when you can access your whole music library on Spotify on your phone? For most people, the quality of streaming music is not the issue – quick, affordable access to a wider library is what they care about. Now that even the Beatles' catalog is on Spotify, the pressure is on musicians who are resistant to go along with the transition to online streaming – even if that means giving up a bigger cut of their royalties.

Technology changes fast, and as history has shown, even a struggling product or faltering company can turn things around. So it might be possible that some of these technologies might still be alive and even growing stronger at the end of 2016 – but for most of the products on this list, the trends are going in the wrong direction, and they're in danger of dying or fading into irrelevance.

 

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