Giant strides in technology in the past few decades have made ‘today’s fiction, tomorrow’s reality’. And all along, industry pundits have made some really interesting predictions. While some of them proved to be eerily true, a few unfortunately failed miserably.
Even experts cannot accurately predict the highway the technological bandwagon is taking right now and what the times will bring. Here’s a lowdown of some of the biggest tech predictions that had to bite the dust.
1. The iPhone won’t sell
One of the recent predictions is related to what Steve Ballmer said about the iPhone in 2007 – that the iPhone wouldn’t get any significant share in the smartphone market.
Too bad, Steve! Your competitor now has the most recognized phone in the world and by the end of last year, had sold around 73.5 million units accounting for one fourth of all smartphones sold.
2. The iPod will be dead
Another prediction that went kaput was about the iPod made by Sir Alan Sugar, the founder of Amstrad. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph in 2005, Sir Alan predicted: “Next Christmas, the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput.”
Contrary to his statement, this racehorse from the Apple stable has gone on to be one of the most iconic portable gadgets of the last decade. An estimated 304 million iPods have been sold worldwide since its launch.
3. No more spam!
In a 2004 interview with BBC News, Bill Gates quipped: “Spam will be a thing of the past, in two years’ time.” This was after he promised that all spam would be gone, speaking to a select group of World Economic Forum participants.
But that was back in January 2004, now more than seven years later, industry insiders say that spam constitutes around 97% of all e-mail messages. Oops Bill, you just missed that one by a huge margin.
4. Sorry Amazon, you won’t work
Needless to say, Amazon.com is doing too well not only in the online retail business but is also a leader in cloud computing solutions and has a brand-new tablet in its range of products. Way to go Amazon.
5. Personal computers are stupid
This one really says it all when it comes to technology prediction bloopers. Ken Olson, President and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. made a profound statement in 1977 about the utility of the Personal Computer: “There is no reason for anyone to have a computer in their home.”
Sorry Ken, Forrester Research predicts that there will be more than 2 billion PCs in use worldwide by 2015, so… that.
6. Weighty matters
This one is really amusing. Popular Mechanics in the year 1949, talking about the rapid progress of technology, predicted that computers in the then near future would weight under 1.5 tons.
Today the lightest laptop in the world weighs just a feather above 1 KG. Talk about being far wide off the mark.
7. Who needs copy machines anyway?
IBM executives had told the future founders of Xerox that the potential market for copying machines worldwide was 5000 at the most. This was said to emphasize the fact that the photocopier did not have a market large enough to justify production.
All this was back in 1959 and the rest, as they say is history.
8. People will get bored of the TV
One of the greatest Hollywood studio executive and director, Darryl Zanuck had already written off our precious idiot box back in 1946. His prediction: “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
He just couldn’t have been any farther from what unveiled after that. Television went on to revolutionize the home entertainment industry in the last century and continues to do so.
9. Rockets won’t escape earth
The very year when the Phantom character made its first appearance across US newspapers, the New York Times made a bold prediction: “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”
The year was 1936 and incidentally, just ten years later, the first American built rocket to leave the Earth’s atmosphere was launched from New Mexico. And it did escape.
10. Bigger planes? Sorry. Nope.
Back in 1933, a Boeing engineer is said to have proudly predicted that a plane bigger than the twin-engine, ten-seater 247 would never be built, right after its first flight. The biggest plane now is the Airbus A380, which can seat up to 853 people and can still accommodate duty free shops, restaurants, all that with a sauna thrown in.
Incidentally, it belongs to Boeing’s arch rival, Airbus!