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Five Tech Products that Will Be Dead in Five Years

by Suzanne Kantra on May 09, 2011

If there's one thing that's predictable in the technology world, it's that things change. Products that were commonplace ten years ago (PDAs, CRT televisions, fax machines) are quickly fading with the sands of time.

Today, there are many products we take for granted that will likely be dead in five years. Whether their features are being subsumed by other products or they are falling victim to changing business models, their days are numbered. Sure you may still find some quaint reminders in the back of the May, 2016 issue of SkyMall magazine, but for all intents and purposes they will be gone.

In-car Portable Navigation Systems

Garmin NuviWhy they’re going extinct: Today, portable navigation devices from Garmin, TomTom and Magellan are a common sight on car dashboards and windshields. But everything the portable navigation systems can do, smartphones can do as well, if not better. And one of the best smartphone nav apps, Google Maps Navigation, is free. So it should be no surprise that portable navigation system sales dropped 22% in 2010. And it should be no surprise in five years when they’re gone entirely.

Computer DVD/CD-ROM

Why they’re going extinct: Ultra-fast broadband connections are becoming much more common in the home. According to, average download speeds in the U.S. are now over 11Mbps. That means most programs can be downloaded in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. So why would you want to pay the extra cost of having a DVD printed, boxed and shipped to your home? You wouldn’t. And in five years it won’t even be an option. 

Wireless Routers

Cisco WRT400n Wireless RouterWhy they’re going extinct: Wireless Internet access in homes will continue to be big business, but buying a wireless router in a store won’t be. Instead, your wireless capabilities will be packaged with the box your broadband Internet provider—cable, FiOS, satellite—installs in your home. And as high-speed 4G and “4G-like” cellular services roll out, more people will use their smartphones for broadband Internet, eliminating the need for a wireless router entirely.


HP Mini 110Why they’re going extinct: Smaller, lighter, and cheaper than a laptop, the netbook was briefly a good choice for people looking for a cheap, portable way to get on the Internet. But with an anemic processor and tiny display, netbooks were an imperfect solution. Today, you can buy a compact notebook with a fast processor and six or more hours of battery life for small premium over a netbook. Plus, tablets are much better tailored to those needing simple web browsing, entertainment and light computing functions. Where does that leave netbooks? Nowhere.


Barnes & Noble Nook colorWhy they’re going extinct: eReaders, including the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook are hugely popular devices. With long battery life and eInk displays that are easy to read outside, they are the perfect reading devices. But tablet computers, like the iPad, can do so much more. And Barnes & Noble is even jumping into the tablet game with the Nook Color, which has a special anti-glare LCD screen and can now run the full range of Android apps. Battery life still doesn’t compete with eReaders, but will continue to get better. Five years from now there will be eReading-oriented tablets, but eReaders will be gone.


Computers and Software, News, Computers & Accessories, Tablets & eReaders, Car Tech & Safety, Blog

Discussion loading


From Kristy Holch on May 09, 2011 :: 1:39 pm

Manufacturers might quake at this list, and consumers may wonder whether to hold off on that GPS or eReader.  There is still life in these products yet, so for consumers, it’s just a matter of considering whether the cost is worth the convenience of having them for just a few years. 

For those who have stored and backed up their files on CD/DVD (such as photos), now is a good time to move them instead onto an external hard drive.  Prices have come way down, and it’s easier to migrate photos from a hard drive to whatever technology comes next down the line.  In ten years, will anyone even have a DVD drive to read DVDs?  Thanks, Suzanne, this is a good reminder that we all have to think forward to keep our content accessible.



From Doc Holliday on May 09, 2011 :: 2:28 pm

Cloud computing is what will be gone in five years. Not mass storage devices. There are a lot of people who can’t put their data in the ‘cloud’ such as attorneys and doctors. 

As was shown with the hiccup Amazon’s cloud suffered, people are going to realize that the cloud is a step back to the days of centralized data processing where some guy can, by himself, deny you access to data and bandwidth.

The issue of ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ in the cloud has not been settled. When it is, cloud computing  will fall as far and as fast as that disclaimer put on the bottom of emails that the contents are confidential.  There is no expectation of privacy in the cloud. The concept will fall and clouds will disappear faster than you can say, ‘floppy disc.”

I am a published photographer. I will never put my images where they can be stolen without me being able to know, much less stop. It’s burn one copy to DVD to work from. Another DVD copy goes in my safety deposit box in a nice fireproof bank vault. 

Most people do not receive their Internet via ‘bundle’. They get it independent of other content providers. Many, if not most, ISPs still have dial up POPs. 

If the only choice is to get Internet through a set top box, the set top box will have to have a wireless router in it. I am not dragging cables to connect my iPod Touch, wifi  iPad, MacBook Pro, semi-useless HP windows laptop and My iMac. 

And, until the price goes way down and bandwidth goes way up, substituting a cell phone for a fixed ISP will remain out of reach for many, if not most people. Furthermore, cell service only provides access for one specific device. After that, you have to go with ‘mobile hotspots’ that use wifi to connect. 

While I don’t preclude the possibility that some hot new device that will come around that will do anything and everything, right now I don’t think that is likely. Especially in a ‘connected world’ where 20+ year old technologies are still in widespread use.



From Amy Turner on May 09, 2011 :: 3:41 pm

at least about the CD/DVD drives on computers. I would hate to lose access to YEARS of a CD music collection. Of course, I still have a turntable for my albums…



From Josh Kirschner on May 10, 2011 :: 2:54 am

I copied all of my CDs to my hard drive and now I don’t have to deal with the physical discs anymore. The songs are much easier to find and I can access them from any device in the house, or even my mobile phone when on the road.

Copying the CDs isn’t difficult, but it does take some time.



From Heather Sullivan on May 10, 2011 :: 10:14 am

Now that broadbad providers are starting to limit the amount of data you can use in a given month, I think people will start to shy away from streaming audio/video. The only way I can see these devices becoming completely obsolete is if unlimited broadband remains the standard.



From JJMurray on May 10, 2011 :: 12:29 pm

I would say you missed on every one of these.  GPS in the car provides a bigger screen and better navigation around the world than a small screen smart phone that you will need an adapter of some kind to even mount.  And of course, just wait until you’re nearing a turn and someone calls you.  Good luck.
DVD/CD? What do you think people store a lot of their home data on? They don’t want all of that “in the cloud” when we have just seen a chunk of the “cloud” go down for a couple of days. No to mention movies on DVD are a long way from being replaced by streaming data.
Wireless routers - they will go away because they will be provided by your cable/TV provider? So they’re not really going away someone is just going to give them to us instead. Watch how fast THAT happens.
Netbooks - while not as popular are much better alternatives for many people because they provide “basic” computing with a decent sized screen and a physical keyboard at a cost far below the alternatives. Many people just need the basics and don’t want to pay for all the extras.
E-Readers - When cost enters the equation the e-reader will win out time and time again. Not to mention size and ease of carrying.
Bottom line is you think that 1) all-in-one devices will replace specialty ones but history doesn’t really back that up except for printers/scanners and 2) people will always be able to do everything on those little smart phone screens.  Just wait until your eyes get older and we’ll see how easy it is to do all those wonderful things on a 2 or 3 inch screen.
Nope, you missed this one entirely.  None of these will be dead in 5 years and if any of them are I will gladly give you a month’s worth of my pay at that time.



From Josh Kirschner on May 10, 2011 :: 5:29 pm

Portable Navigation Devices for cars are already declining at the rate of 20% per year. And that will accelerate as smartphone ownership accelerates. It’s easy to pick up a cheap adapter to mount your smartphone in your car for GPS. When someone calls you you can choose to answer and use the speakerphone or bluetooth connection, just as you would now. As the case for buying a standalone GPS becomes weaker, the economics of manufacturing and selling them goes too.

The cloud is actually a very safe place to store your data since it won’t be lost if you have a fire or flood in your home and can be synced to multiple devices, as with Dropbox. But even if you don’t buy into the cloud, it’s far easier to backup to a thumb drive or external hard drive than optical disks.

Agree with you that some people just need the basics, but why go with a netbook when an entry-level notebook is only slightly higher (or even the same, in some cases) and offers a far better experience?

The cost between ereaders and tablets will diminish significantly over the next few years. And there are plenty of examples of devices being subsumed into others (PDAs, for example, and also starting to happen with pocket camcorders). Five years is a long time for technology on tablets to replicate the ereader functionality well enough to replace them entirely. Or, to put it another way, ereaders will become advanced enough that they will essentially become tablets (as the Barnes & Noble Nook Color did).



From Zinglewaga Dad on May 10, 2011 :: 12:53 pm

1. In car navigation systems. Think they’ll both continue to exist and more likely that they’ll be built in rather than a separate unit. Unless I can plug my iPhone/google maps into a touch screen on my car’s dashboard, car GPS are here to stay.  Don’t think I can drive and use Google maps on my iPhone at the same time.

2. Computer DVD/ROMS.  Agree that they’re far inferior to the cloud for storing important data long term.  I don’t think people realize how fragile the ink on self burned CDs/DVDs is.  And if your house goes up in smoke…  And so much effort to keep up to date.!

3. Wireless routers - probably

4. Netbooks - never really saw the point.

5. Ebook readers - think we’ll see a merging of technology like we’ve seen with PDAs and smartphones.  In 5 years there will be a ‘tablet’ to suit every price and feature range.



From Patrick Green on May 10, 2011 :: 1:42 pm

Whoever created this list obviously doesn’t understand the industries and customers involved or the consumer.

1. For portable gps’ to go away every car maker would have to make gps standard or every person would have go own a smart phone both which are not happening anytime soon.

2. People will always have the need for self storage and while portable hard drives will eat away at DVD storage shares until every car has a USB port there will need to be the ability to burn music in a cd to play in your car or home player.

3. Wireless routers are going no where period. U are assuming everyone on the planet has cable or satellite tv.

4. Tablets will never replace laptops and until some makes a laptop the size of a netbook at the same price point they are not going anywhere.

5. Again until tablet come down to the e- readers price point they are not going anywhere.

This list is American biased with no regard to the other 5 billion 500 million other people on this planet that use these products. Good try but FAIL!!



From Josh Kirschner on May 10, 2011 :: 5:50 pm

I think we understand them pretty well.

1. Portable in-car gps are already declining at 20% per year and that will increase as more people get smartphones (which is happening very quickly) and built-in options become cheaper. Not everyone needs to own a smartphone, but when enough people do it become economically less attractive to manufacture and sell the devices.

2. Many (most?) new cars come with an input jack for connecting a portable music player to your car stereo. Many new phones can also stream music through your car’s bluetooth connection. Five years from now, the idea of burning music cds for your car will seem as archaic as making cassette recordings.

3. Okay, fair enough. This was more of U.S.-based prediction, but yes, in five years the vast majority of U.S. people who have a computer at home will have a broadband connection provided by a cable or telecom company. And we predict that most of those people will have devices with built in wireless.

4. The netbook market is already being squeezed between tablets and entry-level notebooks (of which there are plenty below $500, and some below $400). Five years from now, netbooks are gone.

5. Tablets pricing is already coming down quickly now that more Android devices are hitting the market. Five years from now, tablets will available under $150, perhaps under $100.



From Zinglewaga Dad on May 10, 2011 :: 6:15 pm

Take it back regarding GPS.

Maybe I’ll just get one of these:



From Richard, Leeds on May 12, 2011 :: 7:55 pm

Not sure I entirely agree with you about the eReader.  I think single-use products are always going to appeal to people who do not want the all the functionality of something like an ipad, just a specific bit.  In this case, the ability to display books.  For many people an iPad would be a waste of money as they’d never use most of the features.



From Fred on May 14, 2011 :: 1:38 am

JJMurray and anyone else that is a non believer of the changes coming. If you had any tech sense about you, you would realize that mobile phone screens are getting larger and also Bluetooth technologies are getting as common as the toaster. With bluetooth technology you are able to stream audio and take phone calls while using your navigation. With Google Maps being free and evolving into something better and better it for sure seems like the standalone navigation systems will be absolete within 5 years or even sooner. I think 5 years is even too generous. We will have one mobile device that will do pretty much anything.
The netbook is already going down as I do have netbook and bought one at the height of their popularity, if there was such a thing. Tablets are the current mobile 7”-10” screen in thing. Will this last? Probably will last longer than the netbook. The Netbook can run typical desktop software so it made them more than a web browser. Most Tablets run Android and of course then there is beloved Apple Ipad. The tablets will be running word processing and other apps before long.
I still see wifi routers being use for at least 5 years but probably longer. People still like the ole reliable cable/dsl connection at home. Cell phone and 3G/4G connections have been spotty in places and will improve. There are people that will not have the latest and greatest mobile devices. Only these devices will be able to take advantage of the latest mobile technology speeds. With tech there are many questions and more than answers. In five years there may be something that none of us are thinking of now that will be the next craze.



From Marcus Sr. on June 03, 2011 :: 12:08 am

I have three cars, two have GPS. I have a Dell streak 5, which has Google maps and navigation. the best thing about the nav systems is the large screens. eve with the Dell, five inches is not/barely big enough for a GPS screen. DVD/CD is a reliable source for storage and will be for somr time, especially given the fraility of portable hard drives. I have two that I ised to keep in my back pack and for some reason they don’t work. Also portable hard drives can be very finicky when it comes to OS upgrades; they may work and they may not. Sending critical information to the cloud-not a comforting thought given real threat of hackers and the occasional server crash.
Wifi routers work too well to be going anywhere soon. they will get faster and more secure, but obselete-not for about 10 or 15 years.
I first saw a tablet computer on Star Trek so they will be around for the next two or three centuries. Netbooks will right there with them. also I think netbook manufacturers will soon wake up and realize if they sell a decent model for $100.00, every school kid who doesn’t have a laptop will soon own a cheap netbook.
Tablets are great, but a decent physical keyboard is way better, especailly with a mousepad.
I’m just sayin’



From Marcus Sr. on June 03, 2011 :: 12:12 am

This was typed using a tablet keyboard.



From Kathy Ink on July 07, 2011 :: 10:17 am

I definitely don’t agree about many things here. Compact netbooks have 10 inch screens- too small for me. Touch devices are no use at typing out long messgaes. And wifi routers- what? There’s no way they will become extinct anytime soon.



From Adam B on July 21, 2011 :: 2:59 pm

...the world is ending blah blah blah….its easy to predict technology will change as when you come to be judged invariably things have moved in a direction no one could have ever imagined however I’d disagree with her guess work:
1. Sat Nav - They may be in decline but I’m guessing that it purely a market saturation thing, people don’t often upgrade their sat nav’s when they upgrade their car. A sat nav goes for £100 or less - a smartphone that does the job poorly costs x5 the price….oh and my mum would never touch an iphone but can use a Sat nav
2. Probably right. We are moving to a point where the data is the important part not its medium.
3. As said earlier what your saying is just that people won’t buy routers as they’ll be supplied by broadband companies…weird thing to put
4. Netbooks will be gone yes, I’m sure tablets will be close to going as well. Its in the interest of technology companies to bring new products to the market and then kill them…
5. Ereaders will be stronger in 5yrs - the e-reader is aimed at book fanatics (often the grey hair brigade) and as people adjust to ereaders more will exist. The ipadesque solutions to this work brilliantly for multimedia reading but for basic reading I think the kindle appears to technophobes and will increase. I see more kindles on my daily commute than ipads and have NEVER seen any other brands of tablets…



From hernan on July 28, 2011 :: 2:53 pm

Car GPS systems will disappear? So you think your phone can do it better?
How about that 5 years from now cars will have a better integrated display that will get updated traffic data so you can use your phone for phone stuff? Phones are cool but they have a limited size display. I would want my GPS to have a biggers screen so I can see more details. But I wouldnt want a 10” phone.

eReaders will disappear? Sure.. in 5 years iPads will disappear too. What is your point? From a conceptual point of view, eReaders and iPads and all other tablets are pretty much the same thing with a subtle difference on application focus. In 5 years all these tablets will be far more powerful and will have better screens and will probably have better battery life. However, they will pretty much be the evolved version of our eReaders and iPads. Same thing but better.

Wireless Routers will disappear because service providers will provide them? Well, they already do. But what about the workplace? There are probably a few dozen high end wireless routers in my building and I dont expect service providers to help even in 5 years.

Netbooks will disappear? A netbook is basically a very cheap laptop. That is what it means. If in 5 years you can still get a 300$ laptop (cough cough netbook..) then the netbook will be pretty much alive. In 5 years, I expect 100$ laptop. Maybe a cheaptop?



From Ethan McKinney on July 29, 2011 :: 5:37 pm

I’ve just run into a severe computer problem and had to boot from my CD-ROM restore disk. If the computer won’t boot, how would it connect to the internet to get some sort of fix? I know that ISPs will never offer a boot from network option because there are too many operating systems out there. It would also open up piracy problems where some people would boot from the network every time without paying for the OS.

As soon as we see a good restore disk solution, I’m on board with this.



From Josh Kirschner on August 01, 2011 :: 8:30 am

Most new PCs have the ability to boot from a USB key. Unfortunately, Microsoft and Apple don’t make the process of creating a bootable USB as easy as they should, but it’s not that hard either. If you Google “create boot usb key [your operating system]”, you’ll find instructions. As more manufacturers eliminate DVD drives, I would expect the process to create the USB drive to become easier.



From brian c on August 03, 2011 :: 7:43 am

the dedicated GPS device market will decline sure but they will still be around in 5 years and much longer than that. i love my gps unit, I store it in the glove compartment until I need to use it. It has a home in the car, it does not require a cellphone network, does not use my cell phone data plan, and will sit there on the dash directing me to my destination while my phone can be used for phone calls.

CD/DVDROM these will also exist, for a long time too. many people have hundreds of discs they will still want to access. again, the market will diminish with cloud storage but it will not be “dead.”

wireless routers… netbooks.. meh. I venture these too will be around in some capacity.

ereaders… this is where you are really wrong. e-ink is here to stay. it’s the only way to read an electronic book. reading in direct sunlight is not possible with the same comfort level as a tablet’s lcd screen and with about a month of battery life they will always be attractive, not to mention MUCH cheaper than a tablet.

yup, this was little more than a puff piece to garner clicks and comments. shame on you



From T Streiff on August 05, 2011 :: 3:28 pm

First, It is Mbps, NOT Mpbs ... and there other typos. The author should have done some proof reading.

DVD’s and CD’s may get replaced, but by solid state USB and other small and faster storage devices. When you have a small SD media card that can hold a few high def movies, who needs DVD’s?

Routers are here to stay for a while until they are provided by your ISP if ever. You still need them for all your devices, and not just a mobile 4G connection.

Netbooks, ereaders, and all smallish devices will get replaced by tablets such as the iPad. The iPad can function as a reader, gamer, skype and email, everything except programming, graphic design and creativity when you need to get real work done on a full-blown laptop or desktop. It is good for consuming, not producing.



From Josh Kirschner on August 05, 2011 :: 3:53 pm

Not sure what was up with the typos, but they’re fixed now (at least I think we got them all!). Somehow we must have screwed up our versioning/editing process…



From Sandi on August 19, 2011 :: 11:37 am

My car doesn’t have GPS and neither does my phone. Though I’m pretty tech-savvy, I still rely on printed directions from Google maps at home. I can’t have a smartphone at work until someone makes one with no camera, so it will be a long time, if ever, until I choose to buy one.


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