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Twisted tales from the world of technology this year

Some innovative efforts by tech brands have actually proved disastrous for all

brunch Updated: Dec 17, 2016 18:34 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Reliance Jio,Samsung Note 7,Apple Airpods
The world of tech is like a finely-tuned potboiler with a massive flip at the end of the tale

It’s almost like clockwork. A big headline piece of news around the world of technology, huge euphoria and then we march on to the next big headline generated by our gadget world. Yet, just like movies and books that have a hidden twist in the end, the world of tech is also like a finely-tuned potboiler with a massive flip at the end of the tale.

Free voice and data brings in competition

Absolutely spiffy development. Reliance Jio comes in aggressive as always, makes voice calls free forever, data free for about six months for all, prices announced are super aggressive and the millions queuing up outside Jio stores are a testimony to the fact that this new player is a wake-up call in an industry that was getting complacent. All the other service providers react, data prices come crashing down, voice calls move to free, Airtel even announces that for every rupee you put in their bank, you’ll get one minute of calling free. This is it, India once again becomes the low price aggressive leader in the world! Good for everyone, right? Wrong! The quality of all things voice and data suck and will become even worse as we go along. Data connection speeds are hitting all time lows and voice call quality which was anyway pedestrian, is now pathetic. The twist in the tale is that this is just the start. The USA Airline Industry was excellent at one time, online price wars and people choosing a seat based purely on who was the cheapest lead to it becoming the worst in service and features. Try a cost to cost flight to know what I mean. Our cellular operations are headed that way. Price, free, low and cheapest will rule the roost. Quality will go out of the window and it’ll be a struggle to do anything right. Wouldn’t you rather pay more for pristine voice call quality and blazing fast data connections? Well, you may not have that choice in the near future! Stop rejoicing and start praying.

One phone becomes a self contained bomb, will lead to safer products in the future

The Samsung Note 7 fiasco will take battery technology back by many years

A phone that becomes a legend in its very short life, and may well be the only phone to be a part of the script in all airline announcements before take off and a warning to other companies not to rush a product to market or cut corners in design and safety. Eventually, Samsung Note 7 becomes the corner stone for every phone manufacturer to make safety a priority which is a good thing, right? Wrong! Battery technology has always been the Achilles heel in all technological moves forward. Several innovations and jaw-dropping features can’t be implemented because battery tech didn’t keep up with the rest of the move forward. This one setback for Samsung will take battery technology back by many years. Watch how other companies completely abandon new battery technologies, don’t innovate at all, play safe, become risk averse to ridiculous proportions and go back to conventional old school battery chemistry. You were sure you would soon have a phone that would last a week on one charge? Think again! Think eight hours and your phone dead by evening every day for quite some years now.

Remove 3.5mm headphone jack, introduce the future of audio

Apple’s plan to replace the headphone jack with Airpods is delayed

Yes, it was a radical move and yes, the 3.5mm headphone jack is the oldest legacy port in your phone. The all new move by Apple and LeEcoto digital will bring in superior audio and better products. The advent of wireless headphones, songs and music sound awesome, and it’s exactly what the future of audio needed. Unfortunately, this move forward has had horrendous consequences and a seriously damaging twist in the tale. Companies are abandoning the 3.5mm jack with zero standards. Every one of them has their own solution, ports, digital technology and no universal method. What we’ve ended up with is a complex and proprietary technology from each brand – one that doesn’t play well with the others. Even the promise of better audio and wireless products seems to have withered away. The realisation that bluetooth wireless audio is basically crap, that most of the products announced like the Airpods are delayed and not available and that buying a wired digital audio headset compatible with your phone is restrictive, is earth shattering. By the time all this is sorted out, we will all have spent a fortune yet again on new audio gear that won’t work anymore.

These are some twisted tales from the world of technology. It’s time now for some year ender fun. Coming up next week is a report card on the tech of 2016. The best, the worst, the disappointments, the killers, the sleeper hits, the wild and the wacky – each graded and marked. See you next week.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch,December 18

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First Published: Dec 17, 2016 18:34 IST