I'm sort of ashamed to admit that Friday night's baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies is the inspiration for this article. As a sidebar to the actual game itself, the broadcasters noted that someone had built a replica DeLorean hovercraft and was riding it around McCovey Cove in San Francisco, Calif.
This got me thinking (yes, a replica hovercraft DeLorean inspired me; laugh all you want), what if we could travel into the past, or better yet, into the future to see what products, concepts, and ideas survived and which ones drifted away. Back to the Future II wasn't exactly the best predictor of what the future would be like. According to the movie, in three years we're supposed to have flying cars and a Pepsi is expected to cost close to $50. Neither of those predictions looks even remotely feasible, although I will give the movie credit for correctly predicting a baseball team in Miami.
So today, I'm going to give you my best Doc Brown and highlight seven products, concepts, and ideas that won't exist by the year 2025. I could well be wrong, but these seven things are a long way from hitting 88 MPH and sending themselves back to better times.
- Digital cameras: Come on, you knew there was going to be at least one no-brainer in here! Chances are that if you own a smartphone, the camera in your phone has a higher resolution than the digital camera you own. This is one reason Eastman Kodak bit the dust (one of a dozen may I add) and is another reason why it's crucial to pay attention to camera display sensor companies like OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI ) that are driving camera innovation in devices from both Apple and Samsung. With new smartphones sporting 8MP cameras, and resolutions increasing yearly, why wouldn't digital cameras go extinct?
- 3-D televisions: Personally, I'm surprised 3-D televisions still exist now, just two years after debuting on the market. Of the seven things listed here, this is the fad of all fads, and is one of the primary reasons why Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) , which bet big on 3-D TVs, has been in a downward spiral in recent months. There are plenty of reasons that 3-D TVs are staying out of people's homes, including high price points, the need for ridiculous glasses, and frankly, very little content is currently available in 3-D. Lower 3-D set prices could bring a short revival of sales in the future, but the likelihood of 3-D content expanding dramatically amid already tepid sales makes this technology's survival a long shot.
- Energy drinks: I can almost see teenagers across America, as well as white-collar workers on Wall Street, foaming at the mouth because of this statement. I admit, I'm not an energy drink buyer, period, but I can understand their mass appeal now. What I feel will do them in will be the ever-broadening scope of the Food and Drug Administration. At the moment the FDA is working its way under the tobacco industries' skin and could find its way into regulating the certain aspects of energy drinks including safety, ingredients, and manufacturing, within the next decade. That could be a crushing blow for energy drink giant Monster Beverage (Nasdaq: MNST ) , which generates more than 90% of its sales from its energy drinks.
- Credit cards: Sure, there will be a die-hard few who live in caves and refuse to relinquish their platinum miles card from their wallet, but the trend over the coming decade will be a move from plastic to near-field communication inspired modes of payment using mobile devices. NFC payments are more secure, quicker, and more convenient for users. Two companies that could benefit in a big way from this movement are Dolby Laboratories (NYSE: DLB ) and NXP Semiconductors (Nasdaq: NXPI ) . NXP makes the chips used in NFC-enabled mobile devices while Dolby Labs' subsidiary, Via Licensing, owns all NFC patents. This means big royalties anytime NFC technology is used in a mobile device. Keep your eye on these two names.
- United States Post Office: Blame email or blame smartphones, but one way or another the post office is on its way out. The USPS defaulted on a required $5.5 billion payment to the postal workers' pension for the first time in its history earlier this month, and for the third quarter, the USPS lost a staggering $5.2 billion, or $57 million per day. That's an unsustainable government loss that's only expected to widen over the coming years and will prompt whichever party finds itself in office over the next decade to give the USPS the ax. FedEx, UPS, and other shippers have a few years to figure out how to pick up the slack before the USPS tips over from a stiff breeze.
- European Union: All the king's horses and all the king's men, couldn't solve the eurozone debt crisis if they threw everything they've got at it! After years of grossly mismanaging their budgets, Greece has accepted nearly $300 billion in aid from the EU to buoy its collapsing economy, Spain recently accepted $125 billion in aid for its banks, Ireland took $113 billion in aid, and Italy could be on the verge of needing assistance with its lending rates hovering around 6%. EU leaders can continue to sweep these problems further down the road, but at some point these problems are going to flush to the forefront all at once and the EU as we know it will not exist by 2025.
- The United States is the pre-eminent superpower: Though some disagree, the United States' days as the world's most important nation are numbered. That doesn't mean the U.S. won't hold its lead in innovation and manufacturing, but China is well on its way to dethroning the U.S. in countless other categories. China already lays claim to the world's leading manufacturing output, energy consumption, and steel usage, and should, based on its current trajectory, easily surpass the U.S. in total GDP, retails sales, and imports by 2025. Simply put, people will be looking toward China to dictate global growth in the future first, not the United States.
There you have it -- 1.21 gigawatts of products, concepts, and ideas that are destined for extinction by 2025. Let me and your fellow Fools know your take on the above ideas in the comments section below, as well as other products, concepts, and ideas that could fall by the wayside over the next decade.
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