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The innovation process drives constant adaptation to changes. We believe that the technology of tomorrow will solve the problems of today. 

But, we fail to consider how tomorrow's tech is affecting today’s users. Indeed, progress is constantly moving forward. You wouldn’t think of joining a race with your head facing backward. Therefore, the tech race is looking forward too. But the process can lead to disparities between users. Innovating means creating new solutions that are not compatible anymore with the tools users rely on today. As tech development progresses, users of today’s tech are left with gadgets that are not relevant anymore.

The limitation of compatible tech 

The launch of the PlayStation 5 has been hugely mediatized through smart marketing campaigns by Sony. The company temporarily rebranded tube stations in London, for instance, or influential partnerships with PS5 advocates in the US. For enthusiastic gamers who have splurged on the purchase of the most expensive gaming console by Sony, the company has made it clear that the PS5 would remain compatible with gamers’ favorites. Only a few PS4 will not be playable on the newest console, which means that gamers can still enjoy games from the previous generation. Yet, that doesn’t come without challenges. First of all, you can’t download PS45 games directly onto the new console. You will need to use disks or to download the games onto an external drive. Some PS4 games will also be upgradeable, but it’s unclear whether the upgrade will always be free. Old controllers will not work with the new console, and new controllers may not create an engaging experience on the old console. Sony’s claim of backward compatibility that supports PS4 players falls short of practicality. While some efforts have been made to smooth the transition period, it’s unlikely that players will be enjoying long-term compatibility. 

No app works for everyone all the time

Whether you’re an Android or an iPhone enthusiast, you’re aware that not all applications can afford the same range of functions and experience across different operating systems. While companies are familiar with crossplatform app development, many face challenges with the limitation of the process. Building an app that is compatible across multiple platforms at the same time is a budget- and time-saving strategy that comes at the cost of UX and performance. It makes no doubt that operating systems vary greatly between Android and iPhone devices. Some companies, such as Microsoft, prefer to keep OS separate for development purposes. Indeed, while apps can be developed across all platforms simultaneously, the tech sometimes sacrifices optimal performance. As this happens, apps are less likely to remain compatible with operating systems versions. In the long term, users will need to upgrade their phones if they wish to maintain app access. 

The cost of tech development

It is worth mentioning the tale of the South African tax agency, SARS which relies heavily on Flash as part of its online solution. End of 2020, most browsers and Adobe officially stopped supporting Flash technology. What seems like a trivial matter lies at the heart of the South African economy. Developing an online tax system is an expensive project that South Africa chooses to delay. Instead, the country created the SARS browser to avoid the Flash discontinuation. This is proof that technology development doesn’t always consider how it will impact users. 

Compatible tech innovation is a money-driven strategy. As long as there are significant profits in maintaining compatibility, companies will continue doing so. Yet, when the profit balance changes, compatibility is sacrificed for the sake of budget, time, and convenience. 

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