What is Mainstream and Do You Care?

Paying attention to technology trends is something that I think is essential for anyone providing any type of legal support in SoLoMo.  For some this is easy.  You need to beware of being so enamored with new technology that you forget what is really being accepted.  Taking a wait and see approach, both legally and practically, before you jump into the fray will leave you better equipped to take full advantage of it.

History’s Lessons

How long have you been prepared for the adoption of this or that new technology?  I am reminded of how long video conferencing has been on the cusp of hitting it big.  Remember CuSeeMe?  Brought to us in 1994 with both video and audio.  We are now almost 20 years on from the beginnings of it and only now is video calling truly being accepted.

I pose this question and the title so that I can talk about the perception of the next new wave of technology and the reality of adoption.  Some technology seems to take over the world overnight, but that is hardly the reality.  We are almost 6 years from the introduction of the iPhone.  Smartphone penetration in the US and Canada have just passed 50% (eMarketer Study).  With only 1/3 penetration worldwide.  I think that can be considered mainstream, but do you?

Does your company, or brand, really care about mainstream adoption of technology?  The obvious answer is no.  You only care about your target market’s adoption.

So what is mainstream?  Defined as “the principal or dominant course,” it can also be thought of as the majority.  Mainstream technology defines what is the foundation on which you can build your product or service on top of.  With smartphone adoption surpassing 50%, deploying your consumer product or service to smartphones is now a foregone conclusion.

So what about the next wave?  

What is the next wave and how far away are we from mainstream adoption?  Some, including myself, are pointing towards the trend of computers getting closer and closer to us.  Beginning as huge rooms of circuits, moving to the desktop, to the lap, and into our hands, it is now poised to be something we put on – wearable computing.

Google has put their foot forward with Google Glasses.  The rumor is that Apple will enter the foray with a watch.  The pundits are all trying to figure out which will win, the wrist or the head.  I think a blog from the NY Times actually asks a better question – “if they build it, will people wear it?”

We are all trying to figure out this question.  Developers (okay, developers with $1500 to spend on a pair of Glasses) are scrambling to come up with a great app or experience in the wearable space.  And as they push the edge, we all struggle with what that experience can be.  Google just banned facial recognition apps for Glasses, for example.

What does it all mean to you?

What it means is that new technology is tricky.  That much should be obvious to us all.  You need to be aware of the new things, but also be realistic about what it really means to your business.  Find lawyers who are paying attention so that when you bring them in they know what you are talking about.  But they, like you, need to be open minded about what the practical aspects are and not close minded about their own personal interest in technology.

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