The Fallacy of the Cheap Hardware

September 16, 2008

Ubicomp people:

“One day, we will have computers everywhere!”

Little Computer Scientist:

“Won’t the cost of hardware prohibit applications that require nearly disposable computers?”

Rest of the world (condenscending):

“Silly Little Computer Scientist. Don’t you know the cost of computers falls? Back in the day, it cost thousands of dollars for a 20MB hard disk that was as big as a hippo and thousands more for a 3MHz chip! Now you can get a chip that is thousands of times faster for a tenth of the cost!”

Little Computer Scientist:

“There is a floor on the manufacturing cost of hardware. Improved manufacturing techniques have led to lower-cost higher-power computers, sure, but it hasn’t led to ultra-lower-cost same-power computers. Just because we can get a 3 GHz chip for $100 doesn’t mean we can get a 3MHz chip for $0.10!”

Rest of the world:

(The Little Computer Scientist would very much like to be proven wrong on this.)

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