In the 60's, the technological revolution began to take shape in Silicon Valley. In the 70's, technology became mainstream business. In the 80's, technology became household and worldwide. In the 90's, technology became evolutionary. And what we are witness to now, is technology becoming social. It was only a matter of time.
Every new idea goes through an evolutionary cycle. It starts out as a very utilitarian solution to a basic need. But then, the solution becomes novel as it proves to have more uses. Soon the novelty gives way to innovation - basically, what can I do to makes all of these uses easier. Eventually, the innovation allows access to more users, at which point it becomes a social solution, not just an individual one.
We have seen todays technology companies go through this same cycle over the past 30 years or so. What has changed the path of this cycle, is the introduction of the internet. By virtue of its own name, the internet connects people. Its is the electronic gathering place, the virtual cave where tribes of people meet and interact. It is the enabler of social growth in the technology industry. With the internet, companies have found a new horizon in the application of high-tech. Its become less about data, memory, firmware, or speed. Nowadays, it about user-friendliness now and in the future, its about fun, its about social acceptance, its about apps, and about group trend. Computer companies like Hewlett Packard tout their products as being "personal again". Consumer giant Samsung 's byline is "turn on tomorrow". Todays succesful technology companies are recognizing that a product will not be well received unless it is easily adopted by the social masses.
There are companies which have seen this trend coming for a long time. Companies like Apple Computer, who have watched as mainstream consumers gravitated towards devices and technologies which were easier to learn, fun to use, ubiquitous enough for everyday folks to get in on. What we find though with these companies is that with their success comes audacity; the perception that social acceptance defines their businesses as a cut-above-the-rest. When we heard about the iPhone 4 and its "reception issue", Steve Jobs had the nerve to tell users "here's your solution- just don't do that". When that didn't go over well, Apple engineers were tasked with finding a "technological answer" for the problem. Their best effort - "the signal bars are just not accurate"... so much for engineering prowess.
Technology has found a new way to redefine itself. After years of marketing itself as "faster, better, more powerful, and more storage capacity", the old ways seem bland and monotenous - like staring at a concrete wall - functional but not sexy. The tech world is now putting on an alluring new face - one that screams "socially accepted, socially fun, crowd pleasing, easy to learn, attractive, fun, share-able, and everyday". Old school companies have given way to snappier, friendlier, "hipper" companies that cater to the masses. The problem with some of these hipper companies is that, in their quest to be easier-going, they take themselves too seriously.
So keep your eyes open, as the technology industry tools up for the next wave in high-tech marketing. You may find that your next cellphone or laptop is happier, friendlier, and more "sociable".
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