TECH TALK: 2003-04: Digital Life

1. Digital Life

It is only now that the full impact of the digital technologies is becoming apparent in our lives. From broadband, always-on connectivity to the Internet to cellphones that do more than just enable talk to online music stores and gaming worlds to computers serving as media centres in homes to flat screen plasma TVs, our personal and home lives are seeing an ever greater penetration of technology.

2003 is turning out to be a banner year for PC sales, driven more by home users deciding that theres enough reason to upgrade. Wrote WSJ recently: For the first Christmas since sales started cooling in late 1999, home-PC sales may turn in a strong finish this year, spurred by buyers replacing older machines and the wider acceptance of home-PCs as entertainment-and-imaging devices rather than merely Internet cruisers Unlike in past booms, there is no single feature, such as a new operating system or chip, fueling this year’s sales pickup. Instead, buyers who have been on the sidelines now are eager for a complete update, brightening their new machines with snazzy flat liquid-crystal-display monitors, photo-imaging software, CD-writers, DVD players, and 3-dimensional sound systems. There is a similar story on online ecommerce, as people are buying online in ever increasing numbers. Cellphone sales are expected to touch 500 million this year.

What has begun in 2003 and will continue in the coming years is the coming together of various digital technologies to make for complete makeover of industries. Napster started a revolution in digital music before it had to shut down. What it proved was the demand for music online. This has manifested itself in the creation of online music stories, with Apples iTunes being the most popular, which now sell singles for under a dollar. This has created a further demand for gadgets like Apples iPod. Gaming, which is seeing increasing competition between Sony and Microsoft, is now coming to mobile phones.

Perhaps nowhere is the transformation as great as in the cellphones we use. The same innovation we saw in PCs in the 80s and 90s is now coming to the mobile phones as new features make them more than just talking devices. The convergence between cellphones and PDAs is just the start. These smartphones are packing the power and potential of computers. Fortune named the camera phone as the technology of the year.

In short, digital technologies and gadgets are playing a key role across all aspects of our life. And this is just the start. Even as our work lives have seen little evident change as corporations have clamped down on spending, we find ourselves having plenty of reason as part of our personal lives to spend on the new gadgets that promise a better, more connected and converged life.

2004: The next year will see a battle royale shaping up for the device to control the digital home. The contenders: PCs, TVs / set-top boxes and gaming consoles. More of the PC companies are pushing into consumer electronics will Dells presence looming especially large. Video is the next frontier for digital delivery. Personal servers accessible by mobile devices over wireless networks will work information and applications available everywhere.

Tomorrow: Wireless, Security

TECH TALK 2003-04+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.