Given the examples (though not all of them), that seems to make sense: at some point something is just so good that you couldn't wish for a better version. If you can't buy a better version of something that will work for twenty years, then the number of products sold will decline fast and the manufacturer has a problem. However, that line of though misses three important points
- Every product has always reached a mature phase and manufacturers are usually prepared for that to happen. There haven't been major improvements in world receiver radio's for quite some time, but they are still being produced and sold.
- When the improvement upon the previous model decreases, the time to general adoption grows. This is usually because the price lowers with time and the cost-benefit ratio increases. If the time grows too large, steps may be skipped: 100GB video discs may well be the next big thing, even if blu-ray fails.
- It is about perceived improvement more than about real improvement. Did I actually need this 32" LCD television? Is it actually that much better than my previous 24" CRT version? I don't think so, yet I bought it.
Nevertheless, this does leave us with one really interesting question: will there ever be a time when no technological improvements are marketable anymore? When you have your range of Star Trek technology: holosuite, replicator, spaceship, transporter, ..., would there still be a consumer market for new technology? If not, then the question is when the effective end would be reached.
As dozens of readers at Freakonomics point out:bikes have used the roads in this state forever and have never contributed a penny
- Cycling hardly cause any wearing of roads
- Driving a bicycle instead of a car greatly reduces the costs of the transportation to society. If anything, cyclists should be subsidized
- Everyone already contributes to bicycle infrastructure, in the same way they contribute to infrastructure for pedestrians: are they going to tax people for owning shoes as well?
- In fact, to add insult to injury, cyclists already do not 'use up' their share of expenses, by paying for the -- much more expensive -- infrastructure for motorized transportation via al kinds of general taxes.