Have We Reached Gadget Fatigue?

Smartphones are everywhere, and smartwatches are poised to follow. Techies are eying Google Glass. And we now wear our technology on our sleeve. Have we finally reached gadget overload? CIO.com senior writer Tom Kaneshige isn't afraid to say, 'Enough!'

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Thu, September 05, 2013

CIO — We've just seen Samsung take the wraps off its Galaxy Gear Smartwatch. Next week, Apple will showcase new iPhones and maybe an iWatch. The biggest buzz still surrounds Google Glass, which one financial analyst says will be worth $3.27 billion in 2017.

Everyone seems to be drinking the Kool-Aid, but no one wants to point out the obvious: We're nearing tech gadget fatigue.

Is Tom Kaneshige looking to the future or the wrong way?

Of course, who wants to go on record saying Google Glass will be a flop? They might end up as the next Steve Ballmer spouting off foolish prognostications on Youtube for digital eternity. In truth, the gadget wasteland is littered with recent failures, some of them dead on arrival. Motorola Xoom. HP Touchpad. BlackBerry Playbook. Microsoft Surface.

More failures are on the horizon, too, as a plethora of gadgets hit the market this year. Check out this infographic by the team at financesonline.com showing a flood of consumer tech product releases and expected releases this year. They can't all be hits.

So let's get back to Google Glass and make a prediction: It's going to fail.

Common sense tells us that Google Glass is just plain silly. No one but a tech geek hardened by years of ridicule will wear it. Not only will people look at him suspiciously, they might get annoyed and maybe even a little angry because they think a stranger is secretly recording them.

Most gadgets isolate you from the world around you, but Google Glass can extend outwardly. It can capture images and broadcast your whereabouts. Some establishments made a preemptive strike, saying they won't allow Google Glass on their premises. People tend to take invasion of privacy seriously in this country.

Are We Nearing Gadget Fatigue?

Gadget failures are not just because of a dumb idea. I also think we are getting tired of gadgets thrown in our faces all the time—or, in the case of Google Glass, on our faces. So I'm bracing for a tech gadget backlash.

More and more, gadgets are viewed as a societal ill that needs to be stopped, or at least controlled in some way. We're already seeing the signs. There are studies on smartphone addiction, an extension of the presciently called CrackBerry syndrome. Companies blacklist Facebook and Angry Birds from an employee's mobile device because it leads to lower worker productivity.

[ Related: 10 Popular iPhone Apps - Blacklisted! ]

Then there's the short story of the cellphone earpiece. I remember when hordes of people used to walk down Market Street in San Francisco with a plastic thingy sticking out of their ear while seemingly talking to themselves like some crazy person, but I don't see that nearly as often now.

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