As pretty much everyone knows, Samsung has halted production of it’s Note 7 due to the phones burning. Perhaps this is a uhm, smoke signal, about technology as a whole today.
The Mad Upgrade Cycle
Apple has for years worked on a tick-tock cycle. Hardware ramp up one year, software focus the next. Just before Apple announces it’s cash-cow iPhone upgrades, Samsung typically comes out with its newest version. HTC and others follow. It’s an insane cycle that has infected almost the rest of the technology world. The mad push to “get something new out.”
Why This Has Become Pointless
This mad rush to slam new devices hard into the market and the insane pundit and consumer rants over which device is better, is no longer really viable.
Research has shown that consumers have moved away from upgrading every year and are now keeping their smartphones for 2-3 years and it’s even worse with tablets. The upgrade incentives on all these products, even laptops and notebooks are no longer as significant as they used to be. I blogged a few months ago on the technology plateau we’ve hit…improvements now are incremental. Many app developers are then also forced to update their apps to platform improvements, yet are slower to do so.
All smartphone makers are seeing only marginal lift in sales with new devices now. Even laptop sales have flattened, at best.
Can We Move to a Two Year Cycle?
Ideally, Apple, Samsung, HTC and all the others, would move to a two-year hardware upgrade cycle and maybe a software push each year? This won’t happen. Shareholder and pundit pressure, the fear of competitor tactics. One could argue that this kind of pressure forces innovation, but perhaps frustrates it more?
The Benefits of a Two Year Refresh Cycle
Here are what I see as the benefits to a two year cycle of major device upgrades…
- Cybersecurity: More time to test for weak points and fix them before they hit the market and consumers suffer.
- Better Revenue Leaps: As consumers keep devices longer, this two year cycle will have more of the market ready to upgrade.
- Ecosystem Improvements: Software companies and accessory makers will bring more products to market. Software processes can improve and the hardware manufacturers that have ecosystems (Google, Apple, Microsoft) can generate better incremental (IRR) revenues.
- Less Consumer Disruption: Consumers are growing increasingly frustrated with constant app and platform fixes and updates.
There are more, but this sets the tone. No, this likely won’t happen, but we’d probably have less exploding phones. There are even problems with Apple’s iPhone 6s plus having failing touch screens. These devices aren’t cheap. Manufacturers are increasingly taking risks that could decimate them. Apple could survive a Samsung level catastrophe, once. Samsung may survive this one. But they won’t survive a second.
What do you think?