A Quick Road Trip in the Wayback Machine

2004 technologies

A Quick Road Trip in the Wayback Machine

How 2004 technology lead us to customer-centricity

January 8, 2020


Nothing prompts a trip down memory lane more than a new year…except for a new decade. While I’m not going to argue about whether 2020 technically kicks off a new decade, we wanted to look back a decade and a half to see where the hottest 2004 technologies ended up. Those that made the leap from nice-to-haves to can’t-live-without-it all had one thing in common – they employed customer-centric strategies.

Mobile Phones Get Smart and Indispensable

In 2004, cell phones were already popular mainstream devices. But the transformation from portable phone to must-have, do-it-all device was still a customer-centric dream.

  • 92.7% of US households still had landlines.
  • Texting was just becoming a popular means of communicating.
  • Touchscreens weren’t a thing yet.
  • Taking photos, playing games, and sending emails was exciting new territory.

Remember the Motorola Razr V3? Prior to being dethroned by the addictive iPhone, this sleek-for-the-time flip phone was the biggest-selling mobile ever when it was discontinued in 2007. Fast forward to January 2020, and we can rekindle our love for the Razr, complete with the expected functionality of today’s cell phones.

MP3 Players Change the Way We Listen to Music

CD sales were still fairly strong in the mid-aughts. But the arrival of a slimmed-down MP3 player called the iPod Mini pushed those shiny discs into obsolescence. Oddly enough, both CDs and vinyl LPs have recently begun to outsell downloads. Who doesn’t love a vintage record player?

Even with discs making a comeback, services like Pandora and Spotify let you take virtually the entire history of recorded music anywhere. They even suggest new music you might not have heard based on what you already listen to. Truly using customer data, these platforms as delivering tunes that satisfy the unique taste of ear. So, even though the iPod was pretty great at the time, it could never compete with a recommended playlist of music built on preferences of music lovers.

Social Media Moves to Center Stage

Facebook wasn’t the first website to connect people online but has proven to be the most successful and longest-lived so far, retaining users even in the wake of controversies.

  • Friendster was king of the social media internet at the start of 2004.
  • MySpace transitioned from an online data storage site to social media.
  • Facebook was launched from a Harvard dorm room. It would take a few years to come into its own, but Facebook is now the powerhouse that practically defines “social media.”

Time Has Been Good to Technology

If there’s a takeaway for dealerships or any business relying on technology, it may be that things were heading somewhere in 2004. The tech of the day was pretty cool for the time. But paradigms were just on the cusp of shifting. The ideas were there, but the execution of them…not quite yet.

If you look closely, these 2004 technologies didn’t really start flexing until they moved toward customer-centricity. The tipping point was when thinking shifted from a cool gadget to customer-driven development. While no one would have complained about that shiny Moto Razr phone in 2004, it’s an antique nobody would settle for today because it was still a phone.

So, all this reminiscing got us thinking. Does your old CRM/DMS software have you feeling stuck in the aughts? Those almost-there, not-quite-useful dealership software headaches are over. It’s time to step into 2020.

BONUS: Thanks to the birth of YouTube in 2005, the painful days of loading video content onto the web are over. So, to get your dealership pumped and ready for the next decade, here’s a little musical blast from the past, Outkast’s Hey Ya! Happy New Year!

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