The concept of half-life has always intrigued me, particularly so when I was introduced to the idea of the half-life of material possessions. Wikipedia states “The half-life of a quantity whose value decreases with time is the interval required for the quantity to decay to half of its original value.” In terms of technology I find it particularly interesting to follow the latest “gadgets” that seem to become “must-have”, and within a very short time span are found to be arriving at their half-life within a month or two, soon to be replaced with the newest “must-have”.
Perusing the latest issue of Entrepreneur magazine in their “Looks that Thrill” section I noted the “candy-bar” style phone by Motorola (ROKR E8), and wondered what the half-life of this device will be for its users. The device combines phone, music player and camera in a very elegant design – but what is its real value? Is it a device which will gain value as time goes on, or will it end up with a short half-life? An idea that “…seemed like a good idea at the time…”, but doesn’t pass the test of time.
Applications can have a short half-life also — and when an application is put together and implemented, only to be used minimally for a short period of time, and decreases in value as time goes on — it is a sign of poor planning for the project. Perhaps the project was one that was done because a “cool” technology could be used for it, but just because technology enables an ability doesn’t always mean that it “should” be used. In other words, the value doesn’t really exist. It is my belief that an application being created should increase exponentially in value as it gets used, and yes, certainly at some point it does begin to decrease in value, but beware of the short half-life application, chances are there was little value to be provided by the project right from the start.