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Hastening Technology Obselescence

It seems that companies are trying to force the market to go in certain directions when it isn’t yet ready. Two things (related to smartphones) come immediately to mind: Flash video and MicroSD slots. Both of these technologies still have a useful place, even though both are eventually destined to the dustbin of history. However, that’s true of every single piece of technology we use today. Without any doubt there will come a time when the useful life of anything will be over and we move on a superior alternative. However, what do we gain by trying to artificially hasten that demise?

Let’s start with Flash, which began it’s descent into the annals of history when Apple refused to put it on the iPhone. During the early years of Android the fact that it supported Flash was touted as an advantage over iOS. However, Google woke up one day and decided that they agreed with Steve Jobs and they banished Flash from Android. Fortunately for Android users however, there are ways to get Flash onto an Android phone without having to root (or Jailbreak) it, which means that unlike Apple users they still have access to Flash if they wanted it.

The arguments against flash make good sense. It’s a security nightmare and it’s been the source of many attacks against PCs over the years. It’s also bloated and far less efficient than alternatives, such as HTML 5. In the strictest sense, its time has come and gone, so what’s the problem with vanquishing it from our devices? Quite simply, there are just too many web sites that still use Flash to play video, and so by vanquishing Flash from our devices we also bar access to these sites.

You’d have thought that when Apple banned Flash years ago that would have hastened the adoption of Flash alternatives across the internet, but this apparently hasn’t happened. For whatever their reasons, many web sites have opted to stick with Flash as a means of delivering video to the masses. It could be argued that the ONLY way to ensure the eventual demise of Flash is to make it tougher on sites that refuse to remove it, but if that were the case, why isn’t it working?

Instead of forcing sites to change their ways, the removal of Flash has simply made life tough on the users. Hackers have found workarounds and many people have taken advantage of those workarounds to continue to use the internet the way it was intended (without artificial barriers thrown up by governments or corporations).

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don’t pretend to know how this might best be solved, but it doesn’t seem particularly sane to do it the way Apple and Google want it done. Apple I can understand, but Google puzzles me. Where does their concept of openness play into this?

Next we’ll look at MicroSD slots in smartphones. There’s no doubt that IN THE FUTURE there will no longer be a need for the MicroSD expansion slot in a smartphone, but for the time being it seems insane that some manufacturers have chosen to ditch it. One of those companies is Motorola, whose smartphone division is wholly owned by Google. Like Flash, it seems that Google wants to get rid of MicroSD, but they have a vested interest, in that the alternative they want to push is cloud storage, which they provide.

Now arguably cloud storage could well be the future of mass storage on a smartphone, but at the present time it doesn’t offer a particularly palatable alternative. Data rates are still relatively slow, data caps are a reality (especially on the faster connections, which are needed to use cloud storage to its fullest), and users can’t get service everywhere they go. These issues will eventually be solved, but as they still exist, it makes zero sense to force users to cloud storage at this time.

A shift to cloud storage should be organic, meaning that MicroSD should simply fall out of favor with the users as more useful alternatives are accepted. To try and boot it out the door prematurely just seems like corporate suicide to me. If it was Samsung who was the company leading the charge to dump MicroSD I could see that working, because they have the largest slice of the worldwide smartphone pie and can afford to push an agenda.

However, it’s actually Samsung that seems to be a staunch supporter of MicroSD slots, while companies that are struggling for relevance against the juggernaut that is Samsung are the ones that are slitting their own throats. The likes of HTC, LG, and Motorola are deliberately removing this still-useful feature, which seems like a sure-fire way to ensure lower sales in a marketplace where they need to do everything they can to keep their heads above water.

And at the end of the day, you have to wonder how much these companies really care about the end user. Removing useful features just because they don’t see a need for it, while simultaneously ignoring the realities of the wireless world, don’t add up to corporate thinking that I would trust.

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