How Long Until 4K Is Obsolete?

It took the telephone 70 years to reach 50% of American households, electricity took 50 years, TV took 30 years, the Internet took about 10, and DVD technology just seven years.

In 2010, when the U.S. population was approximately 310 million people, Facebook reached 250 million users in just five years.

It took Apple 24 years to sell 67 million Macs, but only five years to sell that many iPods, three years to flood the planet with that many iPhones and just over two years to sell their 100 millionth iPad.

Interestingly, the first HDTV sets became available in the US by the end of ’98, and it took 15 years for 75% of American households to own one.

Right now about 46% of all American households have multiple HDTVs. Five years ago, 34% of U.S. households had at least one HDTV, and 11% of households had two or more.

So, how long will it take for 4K to become a standard? I doubt anyone knows for sure, but the fact is that adoption speeds, price pressure on manufacturers, access, and the amount of early adopters have all been increasing at exponential rates.

A recent consumer research report from Leichtman Research Group found that 30% of adults have heard of 4K Ultra HDTV, about one-third of this group has seen a 4K Ultra HDTV and 28% of those are very interested in obtaining one.

So, we are not there yet, but if recent history and current trends in technology serve as a road map. We will get there faster than expected and eventually we’ll look back and view 4K like we do VHS tapes, floppy disks, Walkmans, and PDAs.


Eduardo Angel is an independent Technology Consultant, Educator, and Visual Storyteller based in Brooklyn, NY. He currently teaches at The School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography, and mentors the photography program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

He is a co-founder of the idea production company The Digital Distillery, author of popular filmmaking courses on, and regularly shares his thoughts on technology, photography, and cinema on his website

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