Monday, July 16, 2007

Feature Creep

I Love It, It’s Perfect, Now It Changes

Try to go to the running store and buy your favourite runner, and nine times out of ten, your well-worn shoe has been "upgraded", sometimes beyond all recognition.

......the truth is, many consumers bemoan the incessant rush of innovation that pushes manufacturers to tamper with products the consumers feel are already perfect.


Lorne said...

Whoa there little doggie! Is it the marketeers or the marketplace driving the incessant change? I know that from our small piece in the puzzle it is driven largely by the response of the market. Lisa and I have tried to maintain a consistent, no-bullshit business, but customers want to know "what's new" and get the "latest deal."

I sometimes think that I would still run in the Nike Contrails from the 80's. But if I saw them on the shelf next to a newer brand with lighter materials, maybe I would upgrade.

My bicycle, a 9-year-old Klein Quantum Race, was a steal when I bought it and it is still far superior to anything I raced on in the 70's or 80's even though dirty and well-used.

Nonetheless, I see this year's bikes selling for even less than my Klein and featuring better specifications.

I think that there is a substantial gap between our actions and what we espouse. As a culture we are all banging on the environmental drum while consuming more than we ever have in history.

I think just like the saying "you always hurt the one you love" that we always tell the biggest lies to ourselves.

Next time that you shop for something, try NOT to be swayed by the bells and whistles. Is that a new Apple computer with a big honking flat screen monitor that I see on your desk? Did you buy it because the computer company stopped making the old creaky system that you used in the past or because you were impressed by its new sleek, efficient design? So which party is responsible for the change?

eric said...

Ouch. You got schooled, Lawrence. However, Lorne did present a choice. Check these out:

Onitsuka Tiger trainers

My first pair of real running shoes were Tigers, back in 1986, I think. I have been running in a pair lately, and they're actually very nice. You can feel the ground under your feet. It's not like running on a stack of pillows.

One other new models come out, and 'better' equipment displaces 'outdated' models, we have to look at each of these things with a critical eye. Once in a while, the elliptical chainring is 'reinvented' and put on bikes as a 'feature'. The same thing happens with shoes in the stability versus cushioning war. We're about two product cycles away from seeing a three inch heel on some of these trainers. It's utterly ridiculous.

Anyway, great comment.

Lawrence said...

These posts demand a response.

Schooled? I don't know.

I think that some products lend themselves to feature creep that a consumer doesn't need. I also didn't say I was totally immune to the marketers. What I find frustrating is when relatively simple products are changed for the sake of upgrading needlessly.

What I find the most annoying of all, is crappy stuff with a built in life expectancy.

I hope I can recognize (sometimes?) when I'm being persuaded against all reason. I wasn't saying that all upgrades on all products is necessarily a bad thing. Maybe the article did; but I posted it not as personal mantra, but rather because I thought it was a bit interesting and mentioned running gear.

So there. : )

Great comments though.