The product life cycle

Let’s start with four examples, from left to right:

  • The last edition of the Olympus XA camera (XA4). At its launch in 1979 the XA was the first quality camera made of plastic, which was a sensation. Shape, choice of plastics and surface treatments, and graphics made this a not at all ”cheap” product with technical quality to match. And pocket size.
  • The Nokia 2110 cellphone from 1995, in my humble opinion the first cellphone that had the expression and detail work of a modern cellphone. Silky rubber buttons and a display glass that was more sculptural than the ordinary flat little LCD windows.
  • Sony Walkman, the first model from 1979, the ”Walkman” logo was added the year after. It changed how people enjoy music and created a completely new product category. The expression of this first model is focusing on material quality, in order to build confidence in the performance of this little machine. Like the Olympus it introduced a new level of quality in its segment. Initially it sold on portability, of course, but also on good stereo sound.
  • The first consumer pocket size digital video camera by JVC, launched in 1998. The next years model had the fold out LCD that is now common. Like a typical first of category it does not express much more than its technical features and quality.

So these four products were all groundbreaking when they came. They were all early in their product life cycle (well, the Nokia was rather at the step to the next stage when everyone, not only the early adopters, buy the product), thus introducing people to the category and in their expression focusing on quality of performance.

The Shift I want to discuss, from modernistic to postmodern, from form to sense and so on, is also in line with the product life cycle. At the launch of a new product category focus is on physical/technical/measurable performance. At the next stage accessibility and efficiency is important, when everyone is buying one and competitors join in. And when the category is common practice, you look for experience elements to add.

Look at the products above and think about the diversity in colours and styles that are available today!

But also, their functionality is more or less included in the Apple iPhone, with some limitations but also pocket convenience. Obviously the iPhone is at an early stage of its own product life cycle, only available in black or white, focusing on the practical values…

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.