So I understand that yesterday, Sony (NYSE:SNE) announced it is stenciling the "R.I.P." onto the gravestone atop its rear-projection TV business. Um, wasn't it just a couple months ago that Sony also announced -- much to Kodak (NYSE:EK) and Universal Display (NASDAQ:PANL) investors' delight -- that it was leading the charge into OLED televisions?

Technophiles, forgive me, but I'm beginning to wish Intel co-founder Gordon Moore had never been born -- or at least had refrained from codifying the pace of technological progress into a "law" of econo-physics. Because to be quite honest, all this progress is starting to make my heads spin.

Yes, both of them
As I watch this story play out, you see, I'm thinking with two heads. As a consumer, the choices are coming just a bit too fast and furious for my taste. It seems to me that as soon as the industry invents one new-and-improved teleview-ing experience, it becomes obsolete in favor of the next. Vacuum-tube and CRT sets have been around in the U.S. since before 1940, right? If they're essentially obsolete today, that means the technology had about a 70-year lifespan. Rear projection technology (R.I.P. yesterday) got about 35 years.

The last set I personally paid U.S. currency to acquire was a newfangled technology called "flat screen." I bought in fairly early on the adoption curve there, five years ago -- and it's already been replaced by DLP, plasma, and LCD technology. And now OLED.

Paralysis
As an investor, I worry that we're fast approaching a situation where the time between the introduction of one technology, its obsolescence, and its replacement will be too short to permit a consumer to "buy in" to one concept before getting distracted by the next. Seems to me this is a recipe for consumer paralysis -- a state in which buyers' wallets are frozen in their pockets, with their owners afraid to buy a soon-to-be-obsolete product. If things keep going the way they're heading, I fear we could see Best Buy and Circuit City struggle to sell their wares even to early adopters -- much less the general buying public.

If that comes to pass, TV manufacturers like Sony, Sharp, and Philips (NYSE:PHG) could have a hard time achieving the mass consumer acceptance of a technology necessary to reach economies of scale in production. They might even have trouble recovering the cost of their investment in developing the new technologies in the first place.

For more Foolishness on the latest new tech in TV (check back tomorrow for the next), read:

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Universal Display is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation, Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection, and Best Buy is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.