A release from marketing researcher Gartner this week shows the "Hype Cycle" peaking for media tablets like Apple's iPad, along with other technologies that are currently riveting consumers' attention, such as 3D displays.
What exactly is the Hype Cycle? Jackie Fenn, a Gartner research vice president, describes it as follows: "What happens is that people get very excited and have very high expectations for a technology. And we get what we characterize as the peak of inflated expectations, where everyone feels they have to be involved or they're going to be left out."
Fenn continues: "In fact, the technology is often immature at that point, so a lot of people who try it don't get the value that they thought they were going to get. You get a trough of disillusionment, where you get a backlash against the technology, probably going too far the other way before you settle down and people start to understand how you do use the technology."
The October 9 Gartner release highlights "high-impact technologies," such as the iPad and other media tablets, wireless power, 3D flat-panel TVs and displays, and private cloud computing. 4G mobile broadband is also shown as peaking.
Because Gartner generally describes these technologies as immature and not fully understood by consumers (nor suppliers), it is interesting to speculate about how the iPad, the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook, and future tablets from companies such as Motorola will evolve. Dell is already offering hints of variations on the tablet theme with its . And RIM is claiming it will take .
And this week at Ceatec in Tokyo, 3D display technology took a potentially big step in its continuing evolution. That raises the obvious question, will 3D glasses be consigned to the dustbin of history (and future wry commentary about their silliness)?
The report also touches on augmented reality. That is, "the migration of the Web phenomenon--and technology in general--beyond the desktop and into the context of people's everyday lives...for personalized and contextually aware information access."
The report specifically cites the iPhone and Android platform in this context. "Augmented reality is a hot topic in the mobile space, with platforms and services on iPhone and Android platforms, and it represents the next generation as location-aware applications move toward the plateau," Gartner said.
Note that an earlier Gartner release on the Hype Cycle focused on sustainability, green IT, enterprise architecture, pattern-based strategy, and business use of social technology, among other topics.