Gadget Fatigue Sets in
In a new survey from Underwriters Laboratories, nearly half of consumers (48 percent) "feel high-tech manufacturers bring new products to market faster than people need them."
At the same time, the survey, part of an accompanying report, "Navigating the Product Mindset," finds two-thirds of those surveyed also "feel manufacturers do not conduct thorough testing before launching new products."
For their part, 89 percent of manufacturers bragged that they are "at or ahead of the curve" when it comes to innovation. The report was based on interviews with 1,200 consumers as well as 1,200 manufacturers in four countries, the U.S., Germany, India and China.
Several technology bloggers felt the survey results underscored the frequent disconnect between the innovation drivers and end users.
According to The New York Times, there are two possible reasons. One is that technology is advancing so fast, it outpaces consumer desires for new features and functions. The other less obvious one is that genuine innovation in many cases is too slow. In other words, new devices are being pushed out with only a few new features or design tweaks as marketers seasonally plot their mega-launches.
"The new offerings companies are pushing out the door every six months or so are me-too products or ones with a just couple of new features or design tweaks" wrote Steve Lohr. "Marketing schedules, not product innovation, are driving the corporate train."
Other tech bloggers said the rush to bring product to market is partly what’s causing the well-publicized glitches of several new products. Software updates were needed to address problems with Apple’s iPhone 4S and are expected to be rolled out for Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Writing for Mobiledia.com, Janet Maragioglio noted that "pushing products to market early only to fix them with software patches and updates after the fact is a model that has been part of the tech industry since PCs first came on the scene." But she likewise agreed that the innovation pace is moving at a breakneck speed.
"As gadgets go out of date almost as soon as they are out of the package, it also could be a matter of time before consumers tire of trying to keep up and decide to stick with yesterday’s model for a while," she wrote.
- Navigating the Product Mindset – Underwriters Laboratories
- Are We Suffering Global Gadget Fatigue? – The New York Times
- Consumers to Tech Companies: Please, Stop the Flood of New Gadgets – Time
- Consumers Suffer "Gadget Fatigue" as Devices Pile Up – Mobiledia
Discussion questions: Is there a disconnect between marketing schedules and the pace of genuine product innovation? Do you sense any consumer weariness to the constant stream of new technology device offerings?