Seeing as technology is an ever changing microcosm that renders products obsolete time and time again, one may think that an outdated piece of technology has no place in the modern world. However, as the recent California wildfires have shown, old technology does continue to serve a purpose in a variety of ways.
Land lines that were decimated during these wildfires knocked out cell service and internet for hundreds of thousands of people across the affected areas of California. This forced officials to utilize hand-crank sirens and ham radios to communicate with one another and citizens that were in danger. This situation proved one thing: connected technology does have a major downside. Should one crucial piece of technology go down, the entire system could go down with it.
While there are certainly pieces of old technology that are simply less convenient or more difficult to use, not all should be considered entirely useless. Yes, typewriters are more popular for artistic writers, but they are no longer practical now that computers have made writing much faster. However, as trends come and go, so do products that many would consider outdated. That is the key to these constant re-emergences: trends.
Take for example a wristwatch. Asian companies in this industry nearly wiped out old fashioned Swiss watches. But, there has been a recent demand for this style once again, and Swiss watch companies are beginning to thrive once more. Vinyl records have also become popular again despite downloadable music being available at our fingertips. A deeper appreciation for old technology seems to come with newer generations. With that said, businesses should pay attention to this ebb and flow when looking for ways to redefine a piece of technology or business model.
The value of a product plays a large role in just how popular it may or may not become. For example, it a certain type of car is outmatched by a newer model, going back and looking at the production of that older model could provide insight as to why it is no longer highly sought after car. Rather than doing a complete overhaul (though most, if not all car companies do do this), redesign certain aspects of the car to make it cheaper for consumers, but still trustworthy. Building with different types of materials could spark the interest of some.
Technology relies on its competition, and thus, in order for an old model to remerge, the entire industry must change. This goes back to the importance of trends. Over time, people may find it more valuable to utilize older forms of technology, which can dramatically affect the sales and revenue of modern day products. However, it’s important to note that because a typewriter may be trendy in a given decade, computers will not become obsolete. They have essentially entered their own market: fashion. Computers will continue to remain the most practical resource.
In conclusion, old technology still has a place in this world. It can be a crutch in a time of worry. As Ryan Raffaelli said, “The value of some products may go beyond pure functionality to embrace non-functional aspects that can influence consumer buying behaviors. Although it is unlikely that such emotional or self-expressive benefits will completely trump function, exploring these other elements can provide organizations with valuable extra time to develop possible adaptation or repositioning strategies.”