The trends of technology, just as with the trends of anything, appear to go in cycles. There’s something comforting about that. Also something annoying. Because it’s probably not the technology, but our attention spans (and the media attempting to attract it) that are cyclical.
But it might hold true for investors.
Take this CNBC piece. After decades of funneling money into software startups, entrepreneurs are looking to throw their massive wallets at hardware startups.
Software made a lot of sense for investors: Everybody uses it, there are no production costs, it’s much more forgiving (you can’t really release hardware in beta), it can be developed relatively cheaply…all those things lowered risk for investors.
But now hardware might be at that sweet spot of big rewards and low risk.
The article points to a few reasons, Kickstarter-style platforms for gauging consumer interest, 3D printing for quick, easy prototyping. Most interesting, it points out that the biggest reason of all is the smartphone, a tiny, boring piece of hardware known for its powerful, mesmerizing software. From the article:
Smartphone platforms enable entrepreneurs to cheaply build other products that leverage the phone’s technology to collect data and perform other tasks. Examples include wireless wearable devices that track a person’s activity or behavior, connected home devices that help conserve energy and robotics.
In other words, powerful, widespread software makes possible more innovation in hardware. So less cyclical, then. More progressive. And exciting. As long as we’re physical beings, physical products will always be more fun. I’m not sure if I should delete that last sentence or not. Just kidding. I know I should.