It’s often fun – though sometimes embarrassing – to look back at past predictions and see where events actually led.
Back in November 2009 I predicted it wouldn’t be long before “the first major supermarket starts retailing a sub £100” ereader alongside the low cost digital cameras, home electronics and MP3 players we were already used to buying with our groceries.
Less than a year later and sub-£100 readers were indeed available on the high street. These were fairly generic, no-frills devices but nonetheless I felt my prediction was vindicated.
But time has made my original suggestion look both pleasingly accurate and woefully unambitious.
A trip to the UK high street in 2012 will still bag you an eReader for under £100 but now the products on offer are major brand items and market leaders, including Amazon’s latest Kindle which you’ll find demonstrated each morning by crushed commuters on your Tube and train into work.
Unlike the cheap and cheerful devices which emerged a couple of years ago, these big brand readers include instant access to bookstores and WiFi so that your books are available to read without messing around with cables and third party sites.
Of course if you’re looking to spend a little more you can get added 3G connectivity and touch screen support too.
But I think it’s the combination of the sub-£100 starting price, the greater ease of use and the ability to buy from familiar stores that’s helping turn eBook reading into a mainstream activity.
Clearly a product on sale alongside the sprouts in Tesco will gain acceptance faster than one relegated to the hardcore tech outlets.
But I’d go so far as to suggest that those of us who have always been the ‘go to’ guy for tech advice for less tech savvy friends and family are being squeezed aside by the supermarkets’ normalisation of tech products.
And that’s a good thing.
Consumers should have the ability to buy everyday tech products where they do the rest of their shopping and where they’re not going to encounter some geek who drowns them in an info-dump of meaningless jargon.
Meanwhile we early adopters can take comfort from the fact that the support of major supermarkets suggests our chosen tech has longevity and enjoy our spare time without acting as the unpaid support desks for global brands.