Where are the WOW! products?
Opinion - It's been a while now since we've had any WOW! products. In fact, it's arguable that even the most revolutionary product out recently, the iPhone with its amazingly advanced features (relative to other products), was not truly a WOW! product. It had the potential to become what it has since become, but early iPhones were not there yet - and there are still many facets of iPhone‘s imposed soft limits which keep big innovations from happening. And in the world of computers in general … where are our WOW! products? Where is the killer thing? The one that's so amazing it forces everybody to dump what they've got and switch immediately? We don't have any, and I don't think we'll be having many more of those - quite possibly ever - and I'll explain why.
There appears to be a mass effort underway by the huge corporations these days. These conglomerates are not looking to help just themselves, but to be buddy-buddies in the global ecosystem. We see corporations that, rather than sticking their neck out and betting the farm on what they believe to be a truly better revolutionary product, instead choosing the safe route. They go along with the herd and while everybody is releasing sleek new widgets of a particular size, shape and set of abilities ... theirs might be blue instead of red. Those are the types of options we're given today. It‘s almost to the point of: "What color would you like your Happy Meal to be, sir?"
Look at the cell phones we have today. Since the iPhone came out, now everybody has a similar looking touch-screen device with an integrated set of packaged abilities essentially mimicking that of everybody else. And look at cars. You drive by a new car lot today and without looking at the logo on the hood or trunk, it's hard to tell whose lot you're on. Most all of the cars look the same, and those that don‘t aren‘t outrageously different - they‘re just somewhat different. TVs, DVD players, Blu-ray, home products for the general consumer, our modern day store choices, convenient stores, pharmacies - it‘s all the same. It seems like the only truly revolutionary ideas we even see any more come from infomercials.
Why don't we have corporate monsters like Intel, Google, IBM and Samsung, who spend billions of dollars on annual R&D, creating truly revolutionary ideas? They are already huge leaders in their industries. Why not move further ahead? Why not separate themselves from the pack with some big innovation? You would expect companies like these (with the most cash for R&D money) to have the most radical new ideas on a regular basis. They would've hired the greatest talents, paid them the most, and therefore be producing the biggest and best. So why aren't we seeing them?
What was the last truly revolutionary product from Intel? I can't point to a single product they've released that hasn't been an evolution of previous technology (except for possibly Terascale which produced over a Gigaflop on 55 watts in 2007, but Intel seems to be sitting on that technology as well).
Sure, they've gone to 45nm and are heading to 32nm, and their processors have gotten faster with more cores and larger caches, an integrated memory controller via a new interconnect, they've upgraded their motherboards, they've developed vPro, and I don‘t think anybody expected Core 2 to perform as well as it did (Intel seemed to pull that one out just in time, by the way, didn‘t they?) But where's the big one? Where is the monster? Where is the one where we all go WOW!?
I don't think we'll ever see it again. I think those days are behind us. Here's a prime example: Did you know there was an old, retired station owner and broadcast engineer in 2007 named John Kanzius who, while looking for a way to cure cancer using radio wave emissions, accidentally discovered how certain frequencies spontaneously break apart the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen in salt water - allowing it to become a gas which can be burned. By pointing a transmitter at a glass of water (like the way a Microwave oven's emitter works to heat up food), hydrogen and oxygen were emitted from the water in a continuous stream that can be piped off from salt water fuel tanks in cars, converted to hydrogen and oxygen safely in the last stage. Here are the YouTube videos which prove it (here, here, here and here).
Where is this man's salt-water-fuel invention today (let alone his cancer cure)? We have a huge, nation-wide effort underway to fight carbon emissions and tax us for our carbon use. Why isn't this man's invention front-page news and on every major news network on the planet? And why aren't we throwing 100s of millions of dollars to research this? It's the biggest WOW! invention any of us will likely ever hear of in our lifetimes: a fuel made from salt water - the most abundant and free resource on the planet.
The truth is, I think we won't be seeing any WOW! products - quite possibly ever again. Not from Intel, Samsung, Microsoft, IBM, AMD, VIA, Nvidia, or even the the John Kanziuss of the world - at least not those that weren‘t fully planned out well in advance through industry collaboration so that no single entity has the great advantage. The only way I see it ever happening again is if someone foregoes greed and releases it unto the world free of charge. For example, had an email been sent out (the way spam gets circulated) saying "Free Energy Source - Salt Water Turned Into Hydrogen Fuel - Here's the Radio Frequency XXX MHz and the specs on how to build the transmitter" - then we might have seen that WOW! product. But we haven't seen it otherwise. Why not?
It appears that the biggest corporations of today are all working together, using the economic model developed by John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Laureate whose theory was the subject of the recent popular movie called A Beautiful Mind (with Russell Crowe). His model basically states that a system of multiple entities working together for each other's mutual benefit (by ignoring the "big fish" and going for more "lesser fish), results in a sum total of greater success than were each entity looking out only for its own success (by going after those "big fish" alone). And to put it even more simply, it means "there's economic strength in numbers."
Such a system may allow corporations to survive, be stronger cash players, increase profits for those involved while continuing to appear outwardly as being innovative when, in fact, they are all playing their little roles in a well-thought-out, planned, global ecology that stifles innovation in favor of equality. It ultimately creates the type of R&D, manufacturing and distribution chain as we see today - and it's one that's wholly damaging to the regular people.
Consumer's needs are no longer the targets of huge corporations. They don't care if we have the best, worst or something in the middle - and they surely aren't looking to give us WOW! products. Their only interests are efforts designed to keep their cash cows mooing - by releasing what they feel we'll buy, and by doing so at a speed which operates within their planned product releases.
In short, we are not receiving the products we could have. We aren‘t receiving the WOW! products - those which might truly be of benefit to our daily lives. We are instead only given those products the big players are choosing to hand us at the pace they wish to dole them out. And in many cases, that means revolutionary breakthroughs are being completely trashed, or sat on for a time - in favor of company profits and a slower roll-out of Yesterday‘s Ideas - Version 2.0.
Of course, all of this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.