A-T Technology Death Pool

The Atomic Toasters Technology Death Pool

The other day I read this list from US News and World Report about 11 companies that are on the brink going into 2012. Some of them were a bit surprising, like Best Buy, while others were easy to guess, like RIM. Over the past few years, some interesting bits of tech have been disappearing. You can’t buy a CRT TV or monitor at Best Buy anymore. The last car produced with a cassette deck was a 2010 Lexus SC430.

So, now that it’s the new year and we’re all looking forward with hope and disillusion, I thought it would be fun to start the Atomic Toasters Technology Death Pool. What tech companies or pieces of technology do you think will exit the grand stage in the coming year? Will HP finally infight itself into extinction? Will the CD go away, replaced by thumb drives, cloud storage, and digital music? Will peace break out across the land and there will be no more use for the F-22 Raptor and I’ll be able to buy a demilitarized version for cheap?

Put your guesses, conjectures, SWAGs, and just plain weird answers in the comments. If I remember, we’ll revisit these at the end of the year and see who won.

Winners will be accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. Good luck!

  • The Professor

    Well, let's see, Saab just went tits up after a prolonged struggle, how is Volvo doing? Is 2012 the year that we will finally be free of the scourge of Swedish automobiles? It's probably a futile hope…

    • jeepjeff

      I haven't seen the body yet on that one. I'm not going to call it on Saab until much later this year.

  • texlenin

    I predict that nothing untoward will happen at all.
    Life will go on, in it's grouchy, shambling gait and
    we will all be laughing come Jan 2013.

  • tonyola

    Inexpensive, workaday wristwatches. Our phones have the time and alarms we need now. Expensive and fashionable watches will remain for a long time, though.

    As a long shot, cheap point-and-shoot cameras will die off.

    • The Professor

      What will those of us who don't carry those fancy toy phones around do? I can't afford a $60,000 watch. Legally.

      • tonyola

        Well, if you don't carry any phone at all then you'll need to hang on to that old Timex or Casio, but you're in a small minority nowadays. Even the cheapest cell phones have multiple time/alarm functions.

        • The Professor

          I beg your pardon, but my timepiece is a St. Moritz. Nyah, nyah.
          Strangely enough, I've never found a need to carry a telephone on my person. I don't carry an axe either, just for the record. I do carry a pocket gas welder however.

          • tonyola

            St. Moritz watch, hmm? So you're a fashion victim after all, even if on a budget.

          • The Professor

            Actually, there were two main criteria as to why I chose this particular watch. 1- it's made of titanium and therefor immune to my rather caustic perspiration that has ruined no less than 4 lesser watches, and 2- it has a photovoltaic cell to recharge the battery, so I never have to change it. A lesser criteria, but still very important, was that I could afford it.
            Style would be nice, but it doesn't really work on me. Fashion tends to turn into roadkill when I try it.

          • Battery? Battery?!? I wind my watch each morning, thank you very much, then put it back into its watch pocket.

          • The Professor

            Sigh. I've tried winders, and I constantly forget to wind them. I've tried self winders, and they run down anyway. I pretty much had to got to battery powered watches if I want to know what time it is.

          • tonyola
          • The Professor

            Gee, what a pal!

      • OA5599

        Well, don't pay $60K all at once, then.

        What could be better than a wristwatch to buy on time?

        <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_I8xQuJY0zgo/SwnW2C-8JRI/AAAAAAAADoc/k9GyHoAt0VI/s1600/corum+ingot.jpg"&gt;

    • fodder650

      I've heard people saying this before but they forget one thing. A phone is a pocket watch not a wrist watch. Plus looking at your watch is instant where looking at your phone usually means waking it up, because of the phones excessive battery use the screens off, and it takes..ahem.. time to look at the time.

      As for cheap point and shoots they will never die. There will always be kids and we will never give them an expensive new camera

      • tonyola

        But you'll give them an inexpensive cell phone and those will likely have cameras, right?

        • fodder650

          My daughter has a Palm Pre but still uses a Kodak Easyshare for pictures. The cell phones just can't match, even a cheap, cameras picture.
          My son has a LG Env Touch and it's camera is ok but he uses a leftover superzoom camera I had. So in this case you are correct.
          My own personal HTC Incredible has a miserable camera but i think that's because the root I did to it broke it. So I use my wifes point and shoot for times I can't carry my DSLR around.

          • tonyola

            But the cameras on the phones improve by leaps and bounds every year, plus they have the advantage of instant sharing and easy editing.

          • fodder650

            I've been hearing that for years. That the phones are the same as a point and shoot and it's just not true. The only time an iPhone image equals even a mid range (say $100) point and shoot is when they are using digital imagery to clean it up.
            A device meant to do one thing one will always trump a device meant to do two hundred things

          • tonyola

            Then why are iPod sales falling off? Or the standalone GPS devices mentioned by others? True multifunction devices are finally the future.

          • fodder650

            Because MP3 players are a dime a dozen. That's not a technology that improves with better equipment. The only way they can make themselves stand out is either to support a hundred formats or to have a itunes store.

            As for the GPS to be honest they were always overpriced. I remember paying $300 for a GPS and knowing that the maps were $60 a year. Plus they were hurt by people who paid $2000 to have them in their SUV's and thought that was normal.
            Now we have good GPS units for a decent price like the Tom Tom 1535 which I have nothing but praise for. But the damage is done and the market's been broken. Be honest if you are going down I95 do you want to look at your phone, a wide screen GPS or a tablet blocking your view?

          • tonyola

            I think you're missing the point of how devices are used nowadays. For most people – especially young – the single most important device is either the smartphone or tablet. It's the one thing that's always "on". If they're not talking or texting on their phone/tablet, then they're playing games, watching video, listening to music, streaming, editing, or surfing the web. Now if they want to grab a quick snapshot or video, do you think they're going to fumble around for a point-and-shoot? Nope, they'll use the phone or tablet. Sure, the standalone devices might be better. But they're not more convenient, and that's a big issue here for the always-connected crowd. It's not just the mp3 player, cameras, and GPS units that are hurting – look how the computer makers are struggling to keep laptops and notebooks competitive.

          • pj134

            I would say the only thing holding camera phones back right now is the shitty shutter they use. Either switch it to a much faster/better rolling shutter or go to a decent global shutter. The whole "I'm taking a picture, let me make sure nothing moves for the next 5-10 seconds" aspect of most camera phones is their biggest issue as of now. Once they get over that hump, the market probably will be "All-in-Ones" (heh) versus DSLRs.

          • fodder650

            I need to look it up but point and shoots use CCDs and phones use CMOS's. Which degrades quality even at the same megapixels. Then add in the lag that a phone introduces to a picture which is horrific. Oh and the lack of an optical zoom as well. Most people do not realize the importance of zoom until they have them.
            Also make note of how the Flip Camera killed the classic camcorder. Again with no zoom and no real added potential. It's because people are used to using their phones for movies and think this is the way it's supposed to be

          • fodder650

            Oddly my kids are truly different. Two of them have laptops not tablets and one has a desktop. Their tablets are on more then the TV now. It's almost getting to the point that I could drop cable which i have because of them and sports. But then we arent a normal family

            As for the death of PC's and Laptops due to tablets. A large part of this can be laid at the feet of Best Buy who has a policy of pushing iPads on people in place of laptops. It's sick and the people don't realize they are being rooked

          • tonyola

            I don't know – while I like laptops, there is a fun and appealing touchy-factor in an iPad. It's more like an entertaining toy rather than a work device, and I think that's a big part of its success. After all, the crowded Apple Stores have nothing to do with Best Buy. Look how PC makers are scrambling to add touchscreens to their products. If you need more proof of the smartphone/tablet domination, check this out: 1.2 billion apps for iOS and Android were downloaded in the single week of 12/25 to 12/31.

          • fodder650

            You can still do more with a laptop then you can a tablet. You aren't locked down with a laptop nearly as badly as you are with the closed gardens of Android and iOS.
            And unless we are trying for a high reply count I won't start with the whole iOS versus every other OS discussion

          • tonyola

            Of course you can do more with a laptop. I never said otherwise. But laptops don't have the atmosphere of fun, hipness, and fashion that an iPad has, and that is the core of Apple's post-1997 success. Remember how many pundits said that the iPhone and iPad weren't going to succeed because they offered nothing really new in substance? Turns out that didn't matter – Apple went for flash and pizzazz and watched the avalanche of money pour in.

    • P161911

      Don't forget cheap and fashionable watches, especially for women. My wife probably had a couple of hundred watches, all but a half dozen or so worth less than $10. For Christmas she wanted a watch set from Kohls that had 5 different colored bands for the watch. I got her one, she went back the other day and got the other two color sets. She now has 13 different colors of the same crappy watch (there were 2 duplicate colors in the three sets.) Watches in all current forms are here to stay.

  • RSDeuce

    Stand Alone GPS is an example of something that is getting killed by our Tricorder-like smartphones. I like the recent XKCD which reminds us of how much further to go the software has before it takes advantage of how powerful our hardware is.

    • fodder650

      The stand alone GPS is hurting and could go away. Although I bought two last year. One was a $35 one for my motorcycle with a 3.5" screen (I love Woot!), and the other was a $150 Tom Tom with lifetime maps that's been the best GPS i've ever owned. It has a large screen and get's quarterly map updates. As much as I like Android Navigator the size of the screen is to small to use as a GPS

  • BlackIce_GTS

    Are video stores a technology? They're so much have-to-leave-the-houseier than the emerging alternatives. How about network TV? My cable provider just switched over to digital, and the interface is clearly a step toward on-demand programming and a hojillion hyperspecialist channels. I believe I get a college football channel somewhere in the 300s (This is a Canadian cable company we do not have college football why are they giving me this?).

    In light of the prize for winning, I'm going to have to say none of those. Instead, my final answer is electricity. Electricity is totally on the way out.

    • tonyola

      A highly-respected independent video store in my area that specialized in foreign and non-mainstream films for almost 20 years recently closed its doors forever. It just couldn't compete with online sources (legal and otherwise) anymore.

      Another retail victim – map and globe stores.

      • BlackIce_GTS

        That's unfortunate. I would have given stores like that slightly better odds, NetFlix and torrents seem too populistually biased to serve the same market.
        That's what I miss about Napster. Everybody knew about Napster, so you could get anything. German comedypop? Ambient Doom? (this is a real genre) Swedish indie rap? I'm not even joking I have this. Nobody's heard of any of the new music stealificators, so you can certainly get infinity times as much Katy Perry as you could ever want, but anything else is a crapshoot.
        I wouldn't have bet against independent music stores either. Large (ish) chains may have their lunch stolen by mostly-Amazon, but obscurity-fetishist audiophiles have been supporting milk-crate-filled grimy holes in the wall for 30 years, haven't they? But… I guess these people might be served just as well by a guy in a milk-crate-filled grimy apartment with a semi-usable website?

  • ptschett

    I don't see audio CDs going away (heck, vinyl's still around 30 years after its replacement debuted). If I just want a song or two I'll happily torrent thembuy them from iTunes, but if I want a whole album I want to buy the CD. I might never actually use the CD after I've ripped it to my storage format of choice*, but I'd rather have the physical medium.

    *usually a midrange MP3 bitrate with VBR… with the modern trend of dynamic range compression abuse, most new CDs don't deserve better anyway. Plus all my players can handle it.

    • RahRahRecords

      "but if I want a whole album I want to buy the CD. I might never actually use the CD after I've ripped it to my storage format of choice*, but I'd rather have the physical medium. "
      All the more reason to buy it on vinyl. 🙂 A lot of the new albums come with download codes and save you that step too.

  • pj134

    Now, when a business goes under it is always sad to see. The amount of jobs lost by a big box store is immense.

    With that being said, if Best Buy went under I would be ecstatic. Like, Snoopy dance until my feet bleed outside my local store while smiling at the "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS" sign, happy. I can't remember the last time I went into that store and left feeling like they hadn't gone shoulder deep (that is a Tool – Stinkfist reference). Leaving happy doesn't happen. Loathe is too kind a word for how I feel about that vile store.

  • Mad_Hungarian

    1. Sears. And it will probably drag Kmart down with it. The Kenmore and Craftsman brands will get spun off to someone and no one will miss the rest of it. Target, Kohl's and Walmart will cherry pick a few good locations with favorable leases, but a lot of real estate will go dark. What's the technology link? Well, what is Amazon but an electronic version of the Sears Catalog? There was Sears, having spent a century getting people used to shopping from their homes using technology (the phone). All they had to do was shift all that business and goodwill over to the Internet. They didn't even really try, killing off the catalog before Internet shopping really got rolling. Gotta rank that up there as one of the missed business opportunities of the century.

    2. Kodak. To think this company used to be on the forefront of technology. It's been a zombie company for several years now.

  • P161911

    I see CDs for music sticking around, but the CD-R/CD-RW will be dead soon if it isn't already. The DVD-R might be around a little longer. There is a somewhat oddball format that I predict will be dead soon too, the DVD-RAM disc. This let cheapskates with a DVD Recorder do sort of the same thing as a DVR with time shift program watching etc. I have a few and have tried it a couple of times, but it just isn't worth the trouble with Hulu and Netflix.

    Is the Sony MemoryStick dead yet?

    I still see disposable point and shoot film cameras on shelves, that can't last much longer.

    Within the next 5 years there needs to be a format war for e-books and a easy and good way to trade them around.

    "Dumb" phones are becoming a specialized market. Sorry, but I still can't justify the extra $20+/month for the data plan.

  • OA5599

    I can remember when a 1200 baud modem cost a few hundred bucks.
    14.4K was two Benjamins, give or take.
    56K was about $80 when introduced, and eventually became a standard feature of most motherboards.

    Now modems are no longer included in most computers. The difference in price between dialup ISP and DSL is about four Starbucks a month. Or just go to Starbucks (or anyplace else with WiFi) with your netbook. I don't imagine there is much of a customer base left for dialup.

    <img src="http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090407070451/uncyclopedia/images/9/96/Dialup002.gif"&gt;

    On a similar note, I think the only reason printer companies still include fax capabilities in their all-in-one printers is that they probably think it's a fair tradeoff to continue making models with the extra $7 worth of hardware to send and receive faxes instead of having to market a nearly-all-in-one unit.

    • I bought a car back in August and had to send one certain form in to my bank by fax. And only by fax, nothing else was acceptable. I can take pictures of a check with my phone to deposit it in my bank, by the way, but this particular form? Fax.

      As I own a nice-ish all in one, I figured no big deal, but I could not get the damned thing to work. I suspect it to be the fact that my phone is through FiOS, instead of being a real phone. Although I don't know. The only reason we have that stinking phone line is that the Verizon people just hook it up free, I haven't paid for a home phone in years.

      Since I couldn't get the fax to work, I went online and signed up for a trial for one of the efax thingys. Then that didn't seem to work, I was getting no confirmatio ever. So a few hours later I went to OfficeMax, they sent the thing, I say okay, fine, I should have done that in the first place. And of course when I got home I finally got confimation from the efax. Then I got sent out of town for work and forgot to cancel my efax trial, so I got to pay my first $18 a month charge.

      Moral of the story?

      Faxes are dumb.

    • fodder650

      Modems are still used by a lot of vendors with credit card machines. It amazes me everytime i hear the tones go off at a place using them. I used to support them so you will be surprised to hear they are 300/1200's

      • pj134

        Heh, Pennsyltucky.

        • fodder650

          That's the biggest misconception about our state PJ. Most think of PA as being Philly and Pittsburgh and are very surprised to find it's mostly fly over country

        • SSurfer321

          Here in small town KY there are still some hold outs using knuckle busters and calling the charges in at the end of the day.

          • OA5599

            I had a discussion a couple of days ago about the late 70's-early 80's when merchants would receive paper books of credit card numbers not to accept. They would look for your card number, and if it wasn't published in the book, you were good to go.

  • tiberiusẅisë

    I doubt it will happen this year but I think SiriusXM's days are numbered.

    • Same here. Subscribed to XM for a while pre-merger and was impressed with the programming, but MP3 players, HD Radio and now streaming services like Pandora have satellite radio's number. Can't remember the last advertisement for it I saw or heard.

  • Aside for some niche uses, how long will the desktop computer last? Laptops and to some extend mobile phones and tablets are taking over.

  • Lightsquared

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    Considering I don't want to get burned at the stake, chopsticks?

  • zemio

    Tablets will finally get a proper camera, make regular phone calls and be able to send and receive texts. This will cause the death of the iPhone, unless they expand to tablet size.

    China or India will mass produce an absurdly cheap electric car not much bigger than a golf cart and only a bit more technical. These will be on sale from chain stores like Walmart etc. Everybody except the people who use them will try to have them banned.

    .XXX with become the main porn domain.

    BK and McD's will vie to be the 1st to produce a burger box with electronics stamped into them.

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