To change is ‘Technology’

Born in the early 80s in India, I consider to be lucky as I was able to witness a lot of transitions in technology to the tune of disruptions. 80s India was a closed system, so many of the tech available in India in late 80s were already popular during the 60s and 70s elsewhere. But the rapid globalisation in the late 90s meant now India is on par with the latest tech and sometimes even ahead.

Photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash

We had all kinds of music players in the 90s; we had a gramophone with vinyl disks, tape recorders/cassette players and cd players. As if that wasn’t enough the late 90s brought in MP3s which wiped off cassettes/cds in a few years. We hardly thought about throwing away our prized collections when new technology trickled in especially some of the cassettes that I have bought after saving money for a month. Now I don’t even own MP3 files, as I subscribe to music and a data plan.

The rotary phones meant that you literally dial the numbers on the rotary panel and not press. India was very slow to adopt the landline telephones, in early 90s only a few households in a neighbourhood held telephones and push button phones were a novelty but within about 10–12 years India leapfrogged into mobile phones before cordless phones and answering machines could find a market because talking on a mobile phone became substantially cheaper and available. This is the reason there is no voicemail/leaving a message concept in India.

Television sets were mostly black & white sets with 8 channels and no remote, only a few rich could afford a colour tv set. To compare the price point, a color 20 inch TV set with a remote control was worth 80 grams of gold. You could either buy a TV or a small home in a village. Now a 32 inch LED costs at 2 grams of gold price

Only a few choices to select cars; Hindustan Motors, Maruti, Premier. People held on to their cars for a long time. Owning a car was a serious status symbol as a car as basic as an ambassador costed more than a few houses and also meant hefty maintenance bills. They also broke down a lot, you can always give an excuse as a breakdown for being late and people accepted it. Lots of rich imported Honda and Toyota cars which after taxation were on par with Mercedes cars in cost.

Photo by Vishnu Prasad on Unsplash

Now it is a matter of signing a few papers and driving out with a car is reality, it is no longer a luxury product.

Industrial automation and synthetics revolutionised the clothing industry. In a country like India with very few adverse weather conditions in major cities, you could go on with a standard set of clothes but with the current cost of clothing, there are people who treat it like disposables.

This is the sad part of tech, it is Jevon’s paradox efficiency drives down the price, but increases consumption to the point where it is pointless to improve efficiency.

To change is ‘Technology”, early consumers often pay a hefty price compared to laggards with a little change in usability. Mostly the early adopters are people who treat the new ones as status symbols and try to move on to newer things when their status symbols become mass market products. No one proudly showcases a hatchback or a music system nowadays.

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