5 Things That Won't Exist in 10 Years
We’re not in the information age. We’re in the age of disruption. Jobs that have been around for decades are being replaced by machine learning algorithms. Established companies are being disrupted by startups. Startups themselves are being disrupted by newer startups. The only thing constant is the accelerating pace of disruption.
Great technologies absorb
Recently, I was thinking about the various products and technologies that have quietly become obsolete. Great technologies are like sponges. How so? Because they absorb other products. I like to say that the greatest technologies are the biggest absorbents. For example, think about smartphones. Off the cuff I can think of the following list of products and technologies that smartphones have made pretty much completely obsolete to the average person:
- Basic point-and-shoot cameras
- Alarm clocks (remember those bedside clocks that you always see in the movies?)
- Basic pocket calculators
- Physical maps
- Phone books
Manufacturers of these products used to generate millions of dollars in profits from these products before smartphones were ubiquitous. The smartphone is one of the biggest sponges in the history of the world. It has already absorbed hundreds of previous products and technologies and is set to absorb many more.
What will disappear next?
The more interesting question is, what kind of products and technologies will be made obsolete in the next, say, 10 years, by various new technologies and software? Looking at current trends, here’s what I predict will become obsolete.
- Cash: Products like Square and iZettle allow even the tiniest of vendors to accept plastic. In addition, technologies like Android Pay and Apple Pay are coming into their own. Peer to peer payments such as Barclay’s Pingit and Revolut are already popular so you don’t need cash to pay back friends etc. There are already too many bill splitting apps for group pay situations. There’s a whole new wave of startup banks that allow you to do payments, banking etc. entirely from their mobile app. And let’s not mention the looming blockchain and cryptocurrency-filled future. Already, I find myself never using cash in London, if I withdraw £50 from a cash machine – it will stay in my wallet for months, I simply never get a chance to use it.
- Phone calls: As internet connectivity and WiFi become universal, all calls will be done using data (e.g. WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger etc.) instead of through the phone network. I find myself and my friends calling through Whatsapp 90% of the time, the only people calling me on my phone number are generally marketing people trying to sell me things. Network providers will essentially become data providers.
- Physical storage devices: USB flash drives, CD’s, DVD’s and even portable hard drives will all be made obsolete by cloud storage. This is obvious to me, and I’ll be surprised if anyone can come up with a strong counter argument as to why we need physical storage devices when cloud storage is dirt cheap and far more reliable and convenient.
- Driving: Requesting a self-driving, all-electric Uber car is the vision that we’re naturally heading towards. Self-driving technology already works quite well in general and once regulation catches up plus all the corner cases are figured out – this is a no-brainer. I will go even further and predict that kids born today will not learn how to drive and will never need to possess a drivers license.
- Cinemas/Cable TV: This is another easy one. On-demand streaming is growing incredibly fast. Netflix, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Prime, Youtube – the list of streaming options available to us gets longer by the week. Why would anyone need a traditional television with a physical cable/satellite subscription? TV series and all on-demand video will be done through online streaming from any device connected to the internet. Movies? I haven’t been to the cinema in over two years – and I’m not a alone. Cinema attendance is declining worldwide. Movies will eventually be released directly on services like Netflix etc. Only boutique cinemas that focus on a unique experience will survive.
So, what do you think? What do you predict will disappear in the next 365 days?
Just one caveat with these predictions:
The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. – William Gibson
The developed world will see these changes far sooner than the developing world so my predictions naturally refer to the developed world.
Let’s see how wrong (or right) these are – add a reminder to your calendar for 2026.
Kimeshan completed his honours in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT) before completing his masters in Computer Science at UCL in London. He is a full-stack technical wizard, an avid traveler and currently the CTO of Unibudy - a student platform designed to connect prospective university applicants with current students pursuing their targeted courses.