The technology world has received two more pieces of evidence that not only does time march on, but it is marching on faster than ever.
Earlier this month, Polaroid Corp. announced it is dropping the product it pioneered long before the digital age changed the world of photography. Polaroid is closing factories in Massachusetts, Mexico and the Netherlands and cutting 450 jobs as the brand focuses instead on items such as a portable printer for images from cell phones and digital cameras, televisions and DVD players. The closures will leave the company with 150 employees, down from its peak of 21,000 in 1978, according to The Washington Post.
Over the past two years, the company has stopped making its instant cameras which represented an incredible leap in convenience when they were introduced in 1948. Now, it will quit making film, although it will remain available in stores through next year. That leaves Japanís Fujifilm as the only major maker of instant film.
These days, however, a 60-year run for technology is an eternity. Consider your HD DVD player, which this week has been rendered just as obsolete as a Polaroid camera. Toshiba Corp. announced Tuesday it will no longer develop, make or market HD DVD players and recorders, handing rival Blu-ray disc technology ó backed by Sony Corp. and five major Hollywood movie studios ó a victory in the format battle for the next generation of video.
The decision should help settle the debate consumers looking to upgrade their home theaters have been having with themselves, and it may ultimately lead to lower prices on this equipment. Itís not unlike the battle that was waged a few decades ago between the Betamax and VHS formats, a tug-of-war ultimately won by VHS.
Like Betamax owners, HD DVD fans will still be able to use their equipment. Unfortunately, new product will quickly become unavailable.
Meanwhile, HD DVD players will be added to a growing list of products that provided excellent service in their time, but are now obsolete. Remember 78 rpm records and eight-track tape players?
The only difference today is that obsolesce doesnít take decades any more. It only takes a few years.