Once upon a time, companies actually had product life cycles. R&D had time to put out fairly polished builds, testing was a crucial aspect of the development, and end users could take a moment or two to enjoy their purchases before being pummeled by reports of next-gen versions. And back then, being an “early adopter” was actually frowned upon by many tech-savvy individuals.
It sounds foreign now, even kind of quaint, doesn’t it? These days, as new reports hit us constantly about hot new devices, variations on current devices and even next-next-generation devices, across product lines, brands and industries, it can feel almost overwhelming. Adding to the stress, there’s the inevitable buyer’s remorse at almost the very moment of purchase, because it’s a sure bet that this shiny, new and expensive item will be outdated within mere weeks (sometimes, even days). Trying to keep up with all that can be mentally, emotionally, and financially exhausting, no? Maybe that’s why The New York Times is referring to this as Gadget Fatigue.
According to a survey released by nonprofit product testing and certification organization Underwriters Laboratories, nearly half (48 percent) of the consumers polled believe tech makers are rushing products out “faster than people need them.”
Well, who are these stick-in-the-mud respondents? No less than 1,200 consumers in the U.S., Germany, China and India — in other words, some of the same countries responsible for many of today’s high-tech innovations. They were polled by UL, along with 1,200 manufacturers, across industries like technology, building materials, food and household chemicals.
Obviously, it’s the tech factor we’re most concerned with here. On that note, it seems there are two possible explanations: Technological advancements are speeding forward, perhaps at too fast a clip for the average consumer. Then there’s the opposite theory that the innovations aren’t actually coming fast enough, as similar products with minor differences get pushed out according to some marketing schedule. That would mean that many of these so-called “new” products are just re-treads or “me too” items that may not add much to the industry, but contribute to the noise.
What’s your take on this? Do you have Gadget Fatigue, or are you comfortable with the current pace of product launches? And do you think it reflects the current pace of innovation, or it just a crock of marketing? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
[via Bits Blog/The New York Times, image source Paul J. Richards/Agence France-Presse—Getty Images]