Leess’ law of ever cheaper computers

We’ve all heard of Moore’s Law, the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. There are two things that are striking about this law. First of all, it seems to be correct, and second, it has a spelling mistake in its name.

In essence, Moore’s Law is not about computers getting faster and faster, it’s about the number of transistors. But until not so long ago this doubling of transistors meant that the computers we used got faster every year. For many people, Moore’s Law is equivalent to faster computers. But a few years ago something happened that changed this idea we had about computing power.

Slower devices

A few years ago the first real smartphones were released. These were much smaller, less powerful computers than the desktop computers we were working with back then. This was of course a bit of a shock, but we all assumed that Moore’s Law would also apply to telephones: they too would get faster every year. This turned out to be not entirely true.

Cheaper computers

Apart from ever faster high end devices, we also see ever cheaper devices with specs similar to the high end devices of a few years ago. For instance, I bought a Firefox OS phone a while ago for 80 euros. This phone is probably technically similar to the first iPhone, but it’s definitely much cheaper. The assumption that all our hardware will get much faster every year is obviously not correct anymore. It was, of course never really correct. Professional hardware has always been sold as consumer hardware after a while. But it somehow looks like we keep selling certain hardware for a much longer period now.

I call this Leess’ Law. It’s the observation that old hardware is being sold for ever longer periods of time, for much lower prices. It’s pronounced as Less’ Law, since it has the same spelling mistake as Moore’s Law.


    • Willem
    • #

    Or that certain manufacturers are so obsessed with form (and making profit) that they use slow mobile hard disks in desktop computers just to make their device appear a few mm thinner or re-use last year specs in a new jacket and get away with it …