Have we really moved so quickly?
Even faster than physical electronics, it seems, web companies suddenly become obsolete. It makes me wonder what will seem hopelessly dated soon, and what will have replaced it …
• Facebook: The Office television show came so close to the mark with their satirical WUPHF.com, a social networking site that sent updates to your phone, e-mail, fax and pager simultaneously. But even the TV gods couldn’t have predicted the invention and proliferation of Haful Glasses.
Developed by enigmatic Eastern European entrepreneur Gustav Haful, the glasses connect wirelessly to each other and back to a massive central database filled with users’ names, occupations, interests and relationships. They display this information on the inside of the lenses — in 3-D, of course — whenever they detect that you’re looking at another Haful Glasses user. To interact, all you need is a Bluetooth smartphone with the Haful app installed. Rather than scouring the Internet to keep up with your friends and family, it’s as simple as being in the same room with them. Plus the monthly equipment rental fee.
• Google: Searching. What a drag, huh? Even Google saw the writing on the wall and got out of the search business eventually, since it was initially just a convenient avenue for the delivery of their ads.
Predictament’s solution is much better. Using past data gathered from Internet service providers, social media networks, credit card transactions and archived search engine queries, Predictament figures out the website you want to visit — even before you know you’re looking for something. Their patented algorithm, built on a combination of chaos theory and push marketing, analyzes your previous behavior and extrapolates your next destination for you. Naturally, they’re seeking to expand into grocery and online dating markets so they can directly profit from the new direction they give your life.
• Groupon: Sure, it was nice at the beginning, when companies were so desperate for business that they would offer a heavily discounted product or service for one day only. No matter that the advertised offers lost them money in the short term. The theory was that customers would like what they found so much, they’d come back again and again. Which they did — to Groupon, and whatever economically unsustainable deal being offered that day.
Fortunately, consumers soon grew tired of evaluating each offer on its merits and deciding, on a case-by-case basis, what to spend money on. When Cashaday introduced its Deal Subscription, all users had to do was provide a credit card number to authorize a new purchase every weekday. The thrill of a bargain is now combined with the thrill of discovery! Sometimes three tickets to an obscure museum in the next state, sometimes a combination digital camera / universal remote control — perfectly good, just last year’s model. As long as the deal is between the upper and lower limits of the subscriber’s Price Slider, everything is automatic. Who needs choice when you have novelty?
Will any of these predictions come true? If the recent speed of innovation is any indication, we’ll only have to wait until early 2013 to find out.