This sentence, from the Wall Street Journal, strikes me as being profoundly wrong:
Today, another half-century later, a coast-to-coast flight still takes you as long as it took your father in the 1970s. And with the major exception of computers, nothing in your luggage is likely to be much more useful or valuable than dad’s equivalent.
It may well be the case that aeroplanes fly at the same speeds that they did in the 1970s. I don’t know for sure, but my understanding is that supersonic speeds were banned due to noise factors. No doubt someone in the thread will clear that up. Let’s also concede the point about “major exception of computers” – like wow, let’s ignore the single greatest area of human innovation in the past 20 years.
Okay – the material your luggage is made out of is very strong and very light weight compared to luggage in the 1970s. Your luggage will have wheels on it now. Luggage with wheels would have been a luxury item in the 1970s. The entertainment on the flight will be much better than what it was in the 1970s. Remember the single movie in the cabin? That was a feature of flying until the late 1990s. I reckon the food the would be better too, today. Hard to believe, but yes.
Then what about the computers? Paper tickets? Movies on demand on your own device? Books loaded on your own device?
So while it may be true that the experience of flying is very similar – hurry up and wait, fly through the air, and arrive at a destination faster than all alternatives. But many, many aspects of the experience are very different and much improved. Cheaper too.
When thinking of innovation, it’s not just gadgets and new-fangled things that we should think about – it’s improved business models and improvements in pre-existing gadgets that we should think about too.