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Although we hear many reports from CES this week on tech innovation, a telling conversation I had yesterday with a long-time colleague really pointed out where we are in terms of technology innovation at present.

She had just gotten a new laptop computer from her office the day before, and we were trying to connect for a video concall, but I could not hear her as her microphone set-up was not working.   Once we picked up the phone, she explained she had just gotten a new PC and it had a number of problems with it.

And the she made the telling statement that ‘she was very surprised in that her new laptop was not better (faster, more powerful) than her old one’.  And that every time before she had gotten a new system, ‘the new one was better than the old one’.   So why is this happening now?

I believe we all are feeling this right now, which is slowing down the sales of new hardware (laptops, desktops, tablets, smart phones).  The devices on offer are not noticeably “better” in terms of performance. They may have better screen size, but the OS, the lack of design innovation and the horsepower under the hood does not make things better for us.  This is especially since the software is becoming more complex and memory hogging. And the networks are slowing down with traffic and a lack of investment in more bandwidth.

More importantly for me, the technology being designed right now are not for users like me.  I want to do productive work with my system — not watch videos for pleasure, touch screens, play games or take photos.  When I got my new desktop last Spring, I really had to search for a system that met my needs, as the consumer desktops were all fun and games driven.   I am not a user of ‘apps’ — I prefer finished software for multifunctional use.  I despair the next time I have to go desktop shopping, as I already had to hold on to my old keyboard as the new one was not as functional.

Although I appreciate growth in the market is coming from mobile devices, even laptops are become more a commodity item with cheaper quality and lesser functionality IMHO.  This opinion comes from anecdotal evidence from friends and colleagues who have gotten new laptop systems in the last year.

Wait, you say.  Why don’t I change the way I work to meet the new technologies?  I have tried, I do own a tablet for a few years now, but it requires additional add-ons to do keypad entry easily, and I never bothered to go buy more kit for it.  It is my one day travel companion for checking things en-route.  I occasionally ‘talk’ to my mobile phone to search, but half the time it does not hear me properly (like a lot of people I know 😉  )

The nature of work has not changed the need for document creation, which is why I am sitting here at 06:30am writing on my desktop before I hit the morning rush hour.

In summary, if software and services are going to be the drivers for innovation going forward, then the weakest link will be the device we access for that innovation.