Friday, July 15, 2011

This Week's Tech Wish List

Okay, this is really more Joshua Kim’s territory than mine, but a guy can dream. Some tech developments I’d love to see in the very short term:

- A meaningful competitor for Comcast. Locally, my choices for home broadband are Comcast or DSL. Accordingly, Comcast acts like the monopolist that it basically is.

- A meaningful competitor for Verizon. Nationally, there are basically three telecoms with any significant mobile broadband capacity; locally, there’s one. Naturally, it’s the most expensive one. Given the barriers to entry, I don’t expect new competition to come along anytime soon. If ever there were a case for a disruptive technology, this is it. I would love to see some startup come along with a cheaper and better alternative, leaving Verizon in the dust, or at least forcing it to become more customer-friendly. The texting rates alone are indecent.

- A seven-inch ipad, weighing less than a pound and costing around 300 bucks. Something about the size and thickness of a steno pad. (I find the ipad size to be an unhappy medium: too big to carry easily, but too small to type well. No, thanks.) Failing that, maybe an Android version of the same idea, but one that doesn’t drop wifi connections or require a multiyear contract. (I’m too chicken to try rooting a Nook Color, though I’m told that would come pretty close.) Something basically kindle-sized, but with the ability to run apps and to annotate ebooks easily. Amazon, I’m looking at yooouuuu...

- Hell, while I’m at it, how about a webOS tablet that doesn’t suck? One that’s good enough that developers finally write some %^&#)^&#^ apps for it? Sheesh.

- Book publishers realize that if the hardcover is twenty bucks, the ebook shouldn’t be eighteen. If the book industry continues to behave like the music industry circa 2000, it will come to a similar end. Quantity, guys. Sell ‘em cheaper, and you’ll sell more. Scarcity is the wrong assumption with digital information.

- A voicemail system that lets me delete a message halfway through hearing it. Failing that, a voicemail system that only allots, say, thirty seconds per message. If you need to make a speech, write it in an email.

- Speakerphones that don’t sound like you’re under water.

- Plug-in hybrid cars that cost roughly what regular cars do.

- Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

- A “fashion victim” app. I could show it a given clothing combination, and it would tell me if, say, a particular tie works with a particular shirt. Sort of live-action garanimals, for those who remember garanimals. For the younger set, think of it as a GPS for the closet, steering you away from accidents.

- A roomba that cleans gutters. Someone will make big money on this. Hell, how about a roomba that mows lawns? Sort of an automated goat, but with better hygiene and less biting. Add leaf mulching and you’ve got a winner. Decorate it like R2D2, and watch it fly off the shelves.

- A search engine that works with actual paper. My desk would finally make sense.

Wise and worldly readers, what’s your short term tech wish list?