Here's looking up your nostrils

Here's looking up your nostrils

One of the most popular "games" in the IT industry is guessing the next hit technology, and therefore getting the jump on your competition. I guess the theory is that those who get in early make the most money.

One recent scheme involved registering WWW domain names that could conceivably be wanted by others in the near future (and hoping they'll make an offer to buy). In one case a US computer vendor launched all sorts of injunctions and suits against the owner of the domain name it felt it should have. Had the vendor bothered to look it would have found the owner to be a legitimate user of the name for eight years. However, this genuine use is probably the exception rather than the rule.

Around ten years ago in Australia there was a rash of registrations of business names, and companies such as Compaq had to trade under less than desirable alternatives until they managed to buy the name from those who managed to register it first.

For every company that bravely trail-blazes a new technology, there's probably a hundred willing to watch and wait. When the new Pentium II PCs hit the market they'll have completely new motherboards because the Pentium II comes in a brand new packaging format that Intel calls the Single Edge Contact cartridge. The SEC cartridge isn't compatible with existing Pentium Pro boards in which the chip fits into the 387-pin Socket 8. Instead, the cartridge will be connected to a 242-pin Slot 1, much like a daughter card. However, Intel promises it will use the new cartridge form factor for some time to come.

Likewise there are many new or imminent technologies that will require manufacturers to make brave choices. These include USB and Firewire busses. It isn't so much putting USB on the PC that's the brave action, but designing the first peripherals that use it, knowing how few suitable PCs are out there.

For instance, if USB were common on PCs, I'd like to suggest a new product. Let's call it the Key Communicator until a better name comes along. It looks like a keyboard, but also has a speaker at either end, a microphone in the middle, a socket for a telephone handset or headset, a trackball or Iso-Point device and a modem. Despite only needing a single cable going back to the PC and another to the phone socket, this device would be a keyboard, pointing device, multimedia sound input and output device, a telephone, a speakerphone, a modem and much more. There's nothing to stop you adding a video camera too (save the fact that people at the other end of the videophone link mightn't like looking up your nostrils).

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