Every day we are inundated with news reports, advertisements, technical reports, etc., lauding how some product or gadget, or another, is a must have, greatest thing ever product. We are often told we need the newest and latest, and that it can do things we previously didn’t even realize that we needed. However, have you ever wondered why each of these newest and latest crazes is generally rather quickly replaced by the newer and better newest and latest phenomenon?
1. Mobile cell technology is a great example. The other day I thought about how many different mobile devices I have owned. My first mobile telephone weighed quite a bit, and could best be described as a phone in a bag. It worked on analog technology, and was exactly as described, a mobile telephone. Previously, any mobile technology was limited to those wealthy and elite enough to have an actual wired- in telephone permanently installed in their home. My next cell phone was also analog, and was still basically simply for mobile telephone capability, but was far smaller and much lighter (although much heavier) by today’s standards.
As more and more companies started building cell systems, the pricing also came down somewhat. A few years later, these phones were replaced by what was referred to as digital technology, only to soon thereafter be replaced by 2G technology, followed by 3G, and now we are witnessing the emergence of 4G technology as the preferred type. Of course, each time a new technology came on, people needed to upgrade their cell phone, or they could not take advantage of it. Along the way, the use of texts became more prevalent, and thus the phones took calls and texts. Soon, that wasn’t enough, and we also needed to do more, and thus the Smartphone era began.
Although it is neither the largest in terms of operating system or even units sold, Apple convinced millions of followers that they needed the technology offered by their iPhone. Of course, approximately once a year or so, the iPhone has been upgraded, and we have seen the iPhone2, iPhone3, iPhone3G, iPhone4, and now the iPhone4S. Technology giant Google entered into this market with their Android operating system, and these two systems are now prevalent. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry has lost traction because it trailed the others in recognizing the consumer market, and became entrenched with the business market.
BlackBerry has now found itself in the unenviable position of trying to play catch-up, and although they continue to introduce new models, continue to see their market share dwindle. Dominant player Nokia lost so much market share that it hopes that its new phones using Microsoft’s Windows 7 technology helps them begin to retrench and gain market share. Do we all need all these upgrades, or have these companies simply done a great marketing job of convincing us we do?
2. There has been a decrease in the number of landlines, or wired home telephone lines. Has home telephone service improved because of all these changes, though?
3. Look at how many upgrades there have been in the computer technology industry. On one hand, we have seen the elimination of the reliance on the original DOS with numerous replacements (Windows has now gone through at least seven versions/ upgrades, and Windows 8 is supposedly on its way). Chips have become faster, smaller, lighter and more featured, as well as less costly. The size of hard drives have dramatically increased from the original personal computers which had hard drives measured in kB to today’s with hundreds of gB. Each system introduced claims needed improvements, yet each of them has just enough flaws to require eventual upgrades.
Similar things have occurred with Apple computers, with several software and hardware adjustments/ advances. Each tablet computer has tried to chase Apple and its iPad, and now iPad2, yet Apple has remained dominant. The latest entry into this marketplace appears to be Amazon, which is introducing the Kindle Fire at a low $199 (reportedly at a $10 per unit sold loss), using an Android operating system. The technology companies are working to convince people that they need a tablet, although many of these are far less than full featured computers.
Technology companies make money on repeat business, upgrades and add-ons. It certainly appears to be in their best interest to “sell the sizzle, and not the steak.”