The problem with ‘next-gen’ gadgets – The Verge

Gadgets, since time in memoriam, have worked a certain way.

You, a company, release one. It’s good, but it’s not perfect. No gadget is perfect! So you do market research and focus groups. You figure out who’s buying. You figure out what they like and what they don’t like. You refine. You fix problems.

The next year, you release a version of that device that is objectively, concretely better. This is the next-gen device, the Device 2.0. You call this device an “upgrade.” You tell your customers to recycle Device 1.0 and replace it with Device 2.0. Some of them do. “Should you upgrade?” the tech bloggers write, calculating the pros and cons of doing so.

I know, I know, this is a vast oversimplification of how consumer tech actually works. I merely mean to illustrate that many of us who follow the gadget space share an assumption about the way products work: that products improve as the years go on. That next-gen gadgets are better than the gadgets they’re replacing.

But not all technology works that way anymore. And it’s time for all of us — companies and consumers alike — to stop acting like it does.

The “upgrade” mentality made a lot of sense for new categories of products that were trying to probe into what customers wanted. The smart home space in the mid-2010s was a good example — it wasn’t clear how …….


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