Things Have Changed Every 10 Years (And It’s Probably Speeding Up)

Nice Robot10 years ago most people didn’t have iPhones.

20 years ago most people were getting their first computer with the Internet.

30 years ago most people didn’t have a CD player at home or in their car.

Bill Gates was incredibly correct when he said that we overestimate what we can do in a year while drastically underestimating what we can do in 10 years.

Here’s another one with the 10 year range…10 years ago MySpace was bigger than Facebook. In fact, bands like OneRepublic were gaining notice on MySpace and that attention was leading to worldwide fame that continues today.

So what does this mean?

I have a few thoughts.

Today’s Trends Become Mainstream In ~10 Years

One of the takeaways from this phenomenon is that we tend to get excited about new technologies. Current technologies include blockchain and self-driving cars. AR and AI also fall into that category. They’re here today. They’re advanced, but they’re not mainstream. They likely won’t be for at least 10 years.

It takes time for the general public to come around to the idea of big changes. Heck, the first smartphones came out in the ’90s. People barely had cell phones back then. In fact, most people didn’t get their first cell phone until the late ’90s and early ’00s. Then by ~2009, the time was right for everybody to have a smartphone.

So the first takeaway is to have patience with new ideas and technology. It might be early.

Not Everything Is Dead Before It Gets Going

People probably thought that the idea of the smartphone was dead in 1996. The reality was that the initial excitement was probably wearing off. Those involved could see the value, but it would take another decade for most people to get on board.

When that initial excitement wears off it’s usually a good time to get involved from a business perspective. A current example right now is the world of search. For 10 or so years companies have tried to optimize their websites and content for organic search on Google and other search engines…but mostly on Google.

Today, the newness and excitement has mostly worn off, but the value in improving your website and content for search has probably never been greater. In fact, with voice search coming along it could be in for another huge spike in importance.


One thing that has me considering this topic a bit is the fact of whether or not this ~10 year cycle is accelerating. Just one hundred years ago it seems, at least looking back, that technology took longer than 10 years to go from hot trend to implementation. Right now it’s about 10 years. Will it be 10 years in the future?

I think it’s going to accelerate and I think that will make a lot of people uncomfortable. The self-driving car thing is probably a good decade away from being mainstream. And even then it might just be the mainstream taking rides in self-driving cars. Maybe 10 more beyond that before it’s our main form of transportation.

The idea seems radical now, but a smartphone didn’t even cross people’s minds a decade ago and now we can’t live without them. We’re on them most of the day.

So maybe self-driving cars are closer. Maybe that will be one of the first things to accelerate quicker than the current 10 year cycle.

That will force people to change and adapt quicker. Or those that struggle with the change will push back and hold others back so they can stay in their comfort zone.

What You Can Do

The big takeaway is to look at the trends occurring now and then take a long-term view. Don’t think how they will change your life in the next year. Think how it will change in 10 years. That will allow you to make better decisions both for yourself and for the business you’re involved in.

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