“Gadgets” have always been the crux of personal technology. Whether it be a transistor radio, a Walkman, an iPhone, or a FitBit, tech gadgets have always been part of, if not the majority of, consumer technology.
“They were little electronic things that did stuff for you,” reads a report from the New York Times. “They would play music or record videos or give you directions or let you play games on the go. They were fun. Everyone had them. Everyone wanted them. There were whole magazines and websites and even TV shows devoted to them.”
The golden age of tech gadgets may be coming to an end, as software more and more takes the place of individual items, and products such as the iPhone take the place of multiple pieces of technology. It is incredibly difficult to start a company that produces physical products instead of just software. “‘Hardware is hard’ is an actual phrase that people in Silicon Valley say to pass for wise,” continues the Times’ report. “What they mean is, starting a company that makes physical stuff has always been more perilous than starting a company that just makes code.”
“Great gadget companies are now having a harder time than ever getting off the ground,” continues the report. “The gadget age is over — and even if that’s a kind of progress, because software now fills many of our needs, the great ‘gadgetapocalypse’ is bound to make the tech world, and your life, a little less fun.”
“For start-ups, even in these days of easy contract manufacturing in China, gadgets involve a lot of costs — you need money for parts and a factory, and shipping and distribution, and you need virtually everything to go perfectly, because if your first gadget is a bust or has some fatal bug, you won’t have a lot of money to make a second one. And even if your gadget is a success, it won’t last long. The gadget economy is hits driven — you’re only as good as your next big thing.”
Now, profits from gadgets are no longer a regular mix of the tech industry. Nowadays, the money lies in finding ways to sell old stuff with new technology. “But new stuff? Stuff we haven’t seen before? Gadgets? They’re gone.”