Gadgets have worked in a certain way since the time of our anniversary.
You, company, release. That’s good, but it’s not perfect. No gadget is perfect. So we do market research and focus groups. See who’s buying. I know what they like and what they don’t like. fine. Fix the problem.
The next year you release an objectively, specifically better version of the device. This is Device 2.0, the next generation device. We call this device an “upgrade”. Tell your customer to recycle their device 1.0 and replace it with a device 2.0. Some of them do. “Upgrade?” writes the tech blogger, calculating the pros and cons of doing so.
I know, I know, this is vast It’s an oversimplification of how consumer technology actually works. I simply want to explain that many of us who follow the gadget industry have the same assumptions about how products work. That next generation gadget is better than the one it’s replacing.
But not all technology works that way. And now is the time for all of us, businesses and consumers alike, to stop such behavior.
The “upgrade” concept makes a lot of sense for new categories of products trying to find out what customers want. His space in the smart home of the mid-2010s was a perfect example. It wasn’t clear exactly how people would use Alexa, Google Assistant, and the various hardware that included them. It has been improved to better suit these use cases. Google Homes traded loudness for more functionality.
However, many prominent gadget categories (especially smartphones, laptops, and TVs) are now completely out of that space. These are mature markets full of established players and products that are already doing very well. This makes “upgrading” in the traditional sense a daunting task.
Just look at the laptop market this year and you’ll see how it’s playing out. All the examples I can think of are gaming, and some rigs have seen a significant improvement in graphics quality due to improvements in both hardware and software.
But nearly every “next-gen” device we reviewed from the consumer computing space wasn’t what we’d call an “upgrade” from the previous generation. They were upgrades in some ways and downgrades in others. All in all they were quite different.
Some were radically different in both design and function. Take his XPS 13 2-in-1 from Dell, for example. Since 2017, the device has been a very standard convertible, a normal-looking laptop that happens to fold 360 degrees. This year, however, Dell has avoided designing a Surface Pro-esque form factor. It’s being marketed as a 2-in-1 this year, of The XPS 13 2-in-1, replacing the old one in Dell’s store, is basically a Windows tablet with a magnetic keyboard case. That form factor isn’t necessarily better or worse, but it’s hard to conceptualize as an “upgrade” from the previous form factor. It’s perfect for different use cases and aimed at different customers. Just not.
But there’s also a legion of next-gen laptop models that didn’t see many design updates (if any), but ended up targeting an entirely new set of customers. This has to do with the choices Intel has made regarding its 12th generation processor lineup. Intel has long been the world’s largest semiconductor maker and has operated without much meaningful competition for decades. It’s only recently that AMD and Apple have emerged with their menacing, core-packed competitors.
Where once Intel was able to avoid incremental performance gains each year, recently it has had to make bigger, riskier moves. The company made big strides in raw power this year, with Alder Lake chips matching (and even surpassing) Apple’s Arm chips in many metrics. However, these chips consumed more power than the 11th Gen series, resulting in lower battery life for many Intel-powered 2022 laptops.
So, all year long, we’ve been stuffed with Windows laptops that are more powerful than their exact-looking predecessors, but with very little life between charges. Seriously, you can click through the next-gen laptop reviews I wrote this year. I praised performance but I can almost guarantee you complained about battery life. Improved, but these were not upgrades. They were different devices, aimed at users where power was a priority and battery life wasn’t. I didn’t do it.
However, this is not unique to the laptop market. Look at the iPhone 14.This is the iPhone 13, does it have something like a new camera sensor? Few people actually bought this new iPhone – I know Several Those who choose to buy the 13 instead feel it’s good value for money.
Just to be clear, I’m not denying next-gen gadgets or advocating that they should be discontinued. They clearly serve an important purpose in the world of technology. But if they’re not upgrades, what are they? They are sequels.
Entertainment has done this differently for decades. If a sequel to a movie is released, we don’t assume that the sequel will be an improvement on that movie. This is the same for remakes. 2004 Nicole Kidman version wives of stepford It hasn’t erased the title of 1975’s Catherine Ross, the two being separate films that differ in tone and target audience despite sharing the same overall premise and plot. It’s often bad, and that’s okay. It’s not a massive failure or a sign that the studio is doomed.
Clearly, there are countless differences between the consumer technology business model and the Hollywood business model. Movies don’t break or degrade (although elements of the film (special effects, costumes and hairstyles, setting and story elements) change dates over time). Gadgets have to be replaced in ways the movies don’t.
Still, I think some models of the entertainment business can provide alternative ways for both shoppers and manufacturers to think about consumer technology. (Of course, there are other high-tech products outside of gadgets that are already so ubiquitous, cars being one example.)
Some categories are at their best
Imagine a world where if your XPS 13 breaks, you can easily replace it with another 10th Gen XPS 13. Even if the 12th generation models are on the shelves. In this world, chip makers don’t always release new generations every year. Will update when we have something groundbreaking to share. Rather than replacing gadgets with newer versions, companies sell them both side by side, clearly stating who each one is and isn’t for. Also, reviewers rate the new unit on its own unique merits rather than spec-wise comparing it to its predecessor.
I’m not suggesting that this world is even possible. We’re talking about companies that have profit incentives to keep us buying new things and consumers who love shiny new toys. It’s just there.