Like every year, 2008 introduced dozens of new technologies and IT products. Shiny and new now, these things will look quaint in just a few years. Here are some of the new things for 2008 that we’ll reminisce about.


The year 2008 saw the introduction of lots of new products and technologies. If you believe the marketing, all these devices and software will revolutionize the way we do business and the way we communicate and in short will make our lives Heaven on Earth.

In reality most of this stuff will barely have any major impact at all. And we’ll look back at them in 10 or 20 years the way we do a circa 1983 “revolutionary” Tandy Model 100 and think “how quaint.” We’ll look back fondly, remember what it was like working with such kludgy technology, and giggle. Here’s a look back at five introductions of shiny new products that appeared in 2008 that I think we’ll look back at as candidates for Classics Rock coverage.

Smarter smartphones

Smartphones have been around for a while. The idea of using a phone for something other to talk on wasn’t anything new for 2008. However, 2008 saw the introduction of several new phones that came complete with hype as an added feature.

The iPhone 3G, BlackBerry Storm, and the G1 each entered the market with major splashes. Although they’re sleek and powerful by today’s standards, in a very few years, we’ll wonder how we got by with such limited storage options, primitive applications, and slow network speed.


WiMax has effectively been vaporware for several years, but 2008 saw the first limited commercial rollout of the service. WiMax can go one of two ways: It will either revolutionize networking and drive other broadband solutions like 3G, cable, and DSL out of business, or it will wind up being too little too late and end up being a case study subject in business schools about how to not introduce a product. In either case, I think we’ll look back at WiMax in a few years and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Quad-core processors

Intel introduced the quad-core processor to the market in 2007, but it barely counted. The Intel Core 2 Quad was essentially two Core 2 Duo CPUs bundled together in one package. It wasn’t until Intel shipped the i7 this year and AMD shipped the Phenom that true quad-core processors appeared for widespread general use.

This one is actually a no-brainer prediction. All you have to do is look back at former CPUs to see how machines built around these CPUs will be viewed as classics. Take a 1994 PC built around the original Pentium and try to do anything with it today. You really can’t run modern business applications with it. The same thing will be true with an Intel i7 by 2020. We’ll look back it and say “Wow… how did we put up with a computer that’s so SLOW!”


Manufacturers have been trying for years to come up with mobile devices that have the power of PCs but are highly mobile and can be used on the go. We’ve been stuck with laptops or handheld devices for some time, and 2008 saw the widespread introduction of a class of machines called the netbook, based around the Intel Atom processor.

The netbook is supposed to give you powerful computing on the go, but so far all the models we’ve tested at TechRepbulic have fallen short. There have been too many compromises in the form factor to make it useful as a general purpose business machine.  This first generation of netbooks will certainly be looked back on by future generations with curiosity.


The idea of running virtual machines is another one that wasn’t new in 2008, but it was a technology that started to get a lot of attention and some traction. It’s caused a lot of angst and concern by IT professionals who are busy trying to figure out a way to make the most use out of it, and even some debate as to whether it’s useful at all.

Much the way that GUIs were initially pondered, debated, and confounded about only to become an expected standard feature, in the future virtualized machines will become standard fare. Future users will take them for granted and look back on the kludgy implementations the same way we look at Windows 3.1’s GUI and groan.

What do you think?

That’s just five examples of technologies that became big in 2008 that I think will be future Classics Rock topics. What about you? What do you think we’ll be talking about by 2020 and looking back with a combination of fascination and disdain?