January 22, 2005
Cheap flat screens

This is a photograph of my friend Adriana's computer screen. And the whole point of it is that we are looking at it from an angle. And it still works. Apparently flat screens used not to be lookable at from an angle. This made them useless for public display, which is what Adriana needs her computer to be able to do. She needs to be able to share something with a group. Only recently did flat screens learn to do this.


Adriana's computer is quite expensive. But it is noticeable how much cheaper these flat computer screens are getting. All offices kitting themselves up with new computers (it used to be only rather expensive and posh offices), now get flat screens as a matter or routine. Flat screens even seem to be standard with all Dell computers, which are the bog standard ones they advertise with a billion fliers through your letter box.

I have always pretty much assumed that eventually, the price of a consumer item can be measured with a ruler. It eventually costs nothing to make, what with so many people wanting so many of them, so the only question remains is: how much bother is it to store and to cart around the place? Well, flat screens are about as hard to store and distribute as pizza, except that they're even easier because they don't get cold. If you can make and sell an unwieldy thing like a sticking-out TV for fifty quid, then it ought to be possible in due course to make and sell flat screens for a fiver.

What I'm getting at is that the moment when we all decorate our front rooms by having twenty flat screens in them is not far away. Incredibly fancy new software will be needed to make the best of all these screens – lots of separate pictures, one huge picture spread out on all of them, etc. – but software prices follow the same pricing rule. Software also eventually costs whatever it takes to store and distribute it, i.e. even less than pizza.

I wonder what pictures people will want to have. Will they be static or movies, like a wall of TVs all going flat out in Dixons? Will there be a new market for visual stuff to show on such domestic arrays? Presumably. Will old paintings make a come-back in popular taste, given than the same old Old Master doesn't have to bore you to death year after year.

I think I have finally found a reason to regret that I am not a clubber. I am not a clubber because clubs disgust and depress me and always have. But clubs – I guess because all I can do is guess – to do interesting things in the way of pioneering new forms of interior décor. They must have a ton a flat screens in them right now. Yes?

I see that I am repeating myself. This posting here, dating from January 2003, from before the time when I had worked out how to put pictures in my blogs, let alone on flat screens on my living room wall, says most of the same things as this posting today does.

But if it's worth saying, it's worth repeating. Yes, I like that. If something is worth saying once, it is indeed worthy of repetition.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:19 AM
Category: Technology