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Is The 6-Month Product Cycle Upon Us?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the even-planneder-obsolesence dept.

Upgrades 272

Mark Goldstein writes "What is perhaps more interesting than the 4 new Konica Minolta cameras announced today is the rapid product cycle that seems to have been established by both Konica Minolta and other manufacturers." Rather than the yearly model updates that people have come to expect, the article notes that three members of this batch aren't even a year old, and one is only six months.

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272 comments

Six month death spiral (4, Insightful)

solarmist (313127) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631349)

Yeah, sure. The picture quality'll go up, but the overall quality go down, just like video games, or processors, or....

All show and no substance...

I mean that's what seems to be happening with these rapid production cycles; they concentrate so much on improving one aspect that the entire product suffers, or at least starts to suffer, from it.

And let's not forget our favorite one, Microsoft; Although I'm sure this is not the main reason M$ sucks... *Insert M$ bashing here* *and here*

*and here*

*and a little more here...*

Re:Six month death spiral (3, Informative)

DZign (200479) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631375)

ever checked car radio systems ?
models also change a lot and quite fast, while just the looks which have changed while the features are almost the same..
at least usually external cd-changers stay the compatible but if you have a changer of 2-3 years old it can be quite a task to find out with which current radio it still works (as I found out recently)

Re:Six month death spiral (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631485)

Troll. And not a very good one. Typewriter font for the whole comment: you may as well wear an arm badge.

2 big areas that suffer (4, Insightful)

millahtime (710421) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631522)

There are 2 big areas that suffer in this faster life cycle.

1) Reliability - products will be more prone to fail. But, I guess this just forces you to go out and get a new one. Kind of like how many cars are now "disposable". You have them for a couple years and dispose of them to get new ones.
2) Quality - They aren't the quality products they used to be. They sure don't build them like they used to.

Re:Six month death spiral (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631591)

Heh. Microsoft perhaps not the best example of quicker product cycles, just at the moment...

Re:Six month death spiral (1)

solarmist (313127) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631621)

Maybe not quite as fast, but I think Microsoft's production schedule is too fast for the type of product they're trying to deliver and that's one of the thing that's kills the quality

New bussiness model? (2, Interesting)

bircho (559727) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631650)

The only reason i can find for this is about TCO (total cost of ownership)

My dad had a TV set that lasted 20 years. Yeah 20 years non-stop. 3 years with a computer and it's already trash. Same with cellphones, printers, etc, etc... You spend a lot more to keep those devices working.

My Canon bjc4000 printer is about 8 years old and it's better than most new cheap printers.

Re:New bussiness model? (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631726)

I've got 3 year old, 5 year old, 10 year old, 20 year old and 23 year old computers that work just fine... I use them regularly and they work just as well as day 1.

Re:Six month death spiral (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631657)

How is this modded insightful? Say what you want about processors in the "good old days" but name me one processor available five years ago that you would take over one produced today. The best ones of five years ago that are still produced today are even cheaper today. Care to back up your comment?

Re:Six month death spiral (1)

mwood (25379) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631677)

Meanwhile my SR-T 101 still makes pretty pictures whenever I show it how, and the shutter button isn't lost under a mound of features.

My usual question about product cycles is, "how many of them will go whooshing by before they make some change I care about?"

Whats next? (3, Insightful)

jj_johny (626460) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631360)

Can the six month job cycle be far behind?

So What? (3, Insightful)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631364)

I think it is great to put out new products when ever they are ready. I don't feel compeled to always have the newest model, because I know that even with a 1 year product cycle, I will always end up the loser (money-wise) that way.

The six month turn around just means that when I do need to buy a product it is more likely that it will be a time of year when I will be buying a realitively new product.

I think this is a good thing (unless this turns out to be too little time for testing).

Re:So What? (2, Insightful)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631477)

How about this...lets say Company X has developed 10 new innovations for their camera line which is currently 6 months old. To edge out Company Y, they only need to utilize 6 of those innovations. With such short product cycles, they are likely to pockets whatever they can and save it for the next round. Much like a game of spades...you're not going to trump a 3 of hearts with an ace of spades if the 3 of spades will do the same job. With longer product cycles, they would be likely to release everything they can possibly come up with, along with trying even harder to innovate since they'll need that product to stay "lively" for a much longer period.

Re:So What? (0, Flamebait)

wobblie (191824) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631493)

You're a moron. The point is to obsolete whatever it is that you bought six months ago and nothing else. You will have no choice but to buy the newer product if this works properly.

Who modded this tripe "insightful"? Was everyone around here born yesterday?

Re:So What? (4, Insightful)

Azrael Newtype (688138) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631550)

So, a six month turn around is equivalent to making sure devices are destroyed every six months via internal bomb/bios coding to shut down/*insert other paranoid ranting*? I don't know how they could force me to buy a new anything really. I, for one, still have a 5 year old cell phone, a 4 year old digital camera, and a 10 year old car, all of which have fast turn around rates. All of them work as well as I need, so how am I being forced to upgrade? It could be said that they aren't working properly, but really, cell phone companies are about the worst for pushing out new products for no reason and trying to make old products seem inferior.

Re:So What? (1)

Azrael Newtype (688138) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631495)

The six month turn around just means that when I do need to buy a product it is more likely that it will be a time of year when I will be buying a realitively new product.

Actually, I look at it in a somewhat opposite way. The six month turn around just means that I'll be able to find a reasonably good product at the last model prices without buying a proverbial bird and stone tablet box.

They keep pushing out new models, the older ones that are still good since they're only six months old will be cheaper. Hopefully, Digital SLRs will follow the digital point and shoot cameras, so a digi-SLR is... you know.. reasonably priced. At all.

Good for business (3, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631367)

Since most of these updates are minor tweaks, rapid product cycles help remove that sales lag that hits about 9 months after a product is released; I dont want to buy now becaus enext years model is due soon.

Of course, this plays havoc with review readers, since by the time a product is reviewed, a new batch of products is out...

Re:Good for business (4, Insightful)

jj_johny (626460) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631502)

There is a big downside of such rapid product changes. It takes a fair amount of time to stock the sales channel. This means that before you see the latest digital camera on the shelf at the local camera store, it has to go through a three or four hands. This means that a product that is going to be replaced in six months spends the first month or more not available to people. Also, when a new product is introduced all the existing products that are in stock go down in value. If you are running a retail store, you can easily get stuck with product that is obsolete but can't be sold for cost. This is what caused the big computer retails to have so much of a problem when they were reluctant to mark down old product. This was especially true in the height of video card wars.

Re:Good for business (1)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631674)

It takes a fair amount of time to stock the sales channel. This means that before you see the latest digital camera on the shelf at the local camera store, it has to go through a three or four hands.

A good point, but I think it's balanced by the lack of advertising and promotion most cameras get. Unlike Video cards, there isn't the rush of salvitating maniacs aching to get their hands on the latest and greatest; its much closer to a commodity market where most folks walk into their favorite retailer thinking "I want to spend about $300 on a camera". Most advertising I've seen is far more "Brand" focused than "Model" focused.

If you are running a retail store, you can easily get stuck with product that is obsolete but can't be sold for cost.

Another good point. Nikon I think has the right answer; when a new model is released the offer a rebate on the old model, so far this has been a pretty compelling lure.

Re:Good for business (3, Informative)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631602)

It plays havoc with people wanting a linux compatible Wifi card as well. Basically no wifi manufacturer has released a card that at one stage had say a nice prism or orinoco chipset in it that hasn't changed it for something uncompatible like a Broadcomm or TI.

eg:
Netgear WG311 was an Atheros supported by the madwifi [sourceforge.net] driver but is now a Texus Intruments which is yet to have a stable driver (partial success has been had with this one [sourceforge.net], just not by me). At *least* Netgear had the kindness to call the TI version "WG311v2" and change the box slightly (documented here [netgear.com] it still makes it really annoying when you see "supported" next to "wg311" at places such as here [linuxquestions.org], then you buy one and find out it's changed from 4 weeks ago)

The (in)famous Linksys WMP11 used to be a linux-friendly prism but is now a Broadcomm or inprocomm (I think it's been both according to The List [linux-wlan.org]

Many other wifi cards have undergone such massive (I consider a chipset change massive) changes without there model numbers changed and it makes getting a wireless card for linux *VERY* difficult and frustrating.

Re:Good for business (1)

datan (659165) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631737)

the acx100 driver works perfectly on my Dlink-650+ (well enough to use kismet). which card did you try?

Only for some. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631368)

This is why I hate cell phones.

I just want a phone, I don't want to pay for new features I don't need in a new phone in 6 months after my current phone falls apart because they made a piece of crap.

Upon us? (4, Insightful)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631370)

It has been for a while then. Unless nobody seem to notice that the video card market has been in a 6 month product cycle for a long time now.

Re:Upon us? (5, Insightful)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631482)

Which is why I haven't bought one for about 5 years.

Personally I want my purchases to *last*, I don't care if a "better" product is available the fact remains that when I bought something it did what I expected and required it to do and a year later it should still do it, hopefully for much longer.

I really dislike the way the entire technology arena is going, I am only 19 and already I see far too much "progress" for comfort. I look at my dad who has been able to keep the same job for 19 years and I know that I simply won't be able to do that.

But in all this change, I think we should all remember Ecclesiastes 7:10:
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions.

People longed for the past 5000odd years ago and they still do it today, humans all share an odd similarity.

I sorta strayed a bit there...Aw well.

Re:Upon us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631567)

If you enter the job market today, I bet there is upwards of a 100% chance that you will not be keep the same job for 19 years. If you go into tech - 3 years is a long time; in engineering 4 years you'll be lucky; in construction maybe 15 years before you say this is dumb and become the contractor; services probably max of 10 years before you strangle your first customer.

My first advice would be to get a degree in any field get a job and look at how to move up in managment.

Kinda like JBuilder (0, Flamebait)

GeoVizer (724140) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631378)

Borland keeps sticking its hand out this often...

Re:Kinda like JBuilder (3, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631407)

This pattern put a lot of people off JBuilder and Borland products in general. In the long run its probably done them more harm than good.

I don't recall ever having yearly product cycles (3, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631381)

Rather than the yearly model updates that people have come to expect

Have we? I'm more surprised that anyone expected model updates once a year. I expect them whenever the manufacturer believes that bringing out a new model is economically viable. I certainly don't see a new model 6 months after the last one as being particularly noteworthy.

Is this just an American thing? I mean, the rest of the world has never had things like cars being different from one year to the next, yet in the US, you seem to have a new version of each car model each year, being arbitrarily different to the last, apparently just for the sake of being different and new for that particular year.

Re:I don't recall ever having yearly product cycle (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631455)

"I mean, the rest of the world has never had things like cars being different from one year to the next"

Puhleaaase!

How about Japan? How about Europe? How about the freakin' rest of the world!

Re:I don't recall ever having yearly product cycle (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631503)

The only thing he could be possibly talking about (and it is a stretch) is that some car manufacturers go on a two or three year cycle. Design a whole new car one year, refine it the next year, maybe refine it again, repeat. That's why you don't go with the first of a new series, always wait a year for them to get the bugs out. But yeah, he's probably just an idiot.

Re:I don't recall ever having yearly product cycle (2, Interesting)

cyxxon (773198) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631549)

No, your parent was right.

The most popular car in europe, the VW Golf [volkswagen.de], is right now in its 5th incarnation, since about a year or so. I bought my own Golf IV in 2000, and it was already 2 years old then (my car, not the general Golf IV model, that was older). It is not a "98' Golf", though, but a "Golf IV", and nobody really cares about the production year, except maybe a local garage, when a certain part changed due to some production reason.

And that is really different from the habit of labeling american cars by their production year and the model name. It just is. No amount of "Puhleaaase!" can change that.

Re:I don't recall ever having yearly product cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631763)

We all know there is little significant difference between most model years for a given make and model. The technology is no longer increasing fast enough to make constant product overhauls cost effective. The model year is still important from a valuation standpoint. You can get a rough idea of the value of a car simply by knowing in which year it was produced.

Re:I don't recall ever having yearly product cycle (4, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631513)

Is this just an American thing?

On the contrary, it's particularly an Asian thing, both in electronics and in cars. The Japanese auto makers change things at the part level much more frequently than the Americans do, for example.

It seems like a lot of British and Europeans forget how much more connected the US economy is to East Asia than theirs are.

Re:I don't recall ever having yearly product cycle (1, Troll)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631615)

On the contrary, it's particularly an Asian thing, both in electronics and in cars. The Japanese auto makers change things at the part level much more frequently than the Americans do, for example.
You obviously didn't grow-up in the 1960's... For a given make and model, from year to year, cars were radically different.

cellphones too? (2, Insightful)

bircho (559727) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631384)

i don't know about you guys, but my old motorola brick was less laggy and had better sound (i know... digital is better) than my brand new siemens.

they are not caring about quality anymore.

Re:cellphones too? (2, Interesting)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631574)

i don't know about you guys, but my old motorola brick was less laggy and had better sound (i know... digital is better) than my brand new siemens.

If you old Motorola brick was analog (AMPS), then that probably explains it. Your digital cellphone compresses a voice stream into a measly 9600 or 14400 bps. Yeah, its great in a car because the codec also gets rid of noise, but I think overall voice quality stinks and relish the days of AMPS with occasional static. Second, your call is dropped if you hit a momentary dead area and lose too many packets to recover. On the otherhand, analog will just drop out (or go static) and usually recover (unless you are dead for more than a second).

Re:cellphones too? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631608)

Well, considering that analogue cellphones have been obsolescent around 10 years ago, and end-of-life 5 years ago in most of the world, I'd say that yes, digital is probably better.


It's more down to handset design, though. My 3-year-old Nokia sounds a hell of a lot better than the new one I tried (and didn't like). The 7110 that it replaced was even better, with a nicer UI, but kept switching itself off.

Re:cellphones too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631627)

> they are not caring about quality anymore.

Today's consumers only care about 'small and shiny' they don't give a shit about quality or durability.

Re:cellphones too? (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631704)

Just remember:

Our cameras come with a lot of great features...Like a phone.
-Any modern phone producer

Believe it or not that was actually a slogan used on a billboard for a phone. I can't remember which one but it really turned me off buying a new one as I know that mobile phone cameras are crappier-than-webcam quality and if the phone is just an added feature of the camera I guess I'm better off with 2 cans and a bit of string.

It's the market, silly (4, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631385)

Markets that are in periods of rapid change obviously have rapid product cycles. When the race to the bottom is finished, and the winners have divided up the market, the product cycle will slow down again.

There are still too many camera manufacturers and the costs are still too high. The market will slow down when the cost per camera has come down to around $20 and the functionality is more than the average consumer wants. There will always be a market for premium products but this is not what is driving the current cycle: it's the mass market.

Standard technology curve... aka Heironymous' Law.

Faster != better (5, Insightful)

supercytro (527265) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631401)

The problem is that shorter release cycles are not necessarily better for the consumers. For the average consumer, it's hard enough to choose a brand amongst the myriad models out there. Then the buyer can look forward to having their model devalued with a new upgrade.

The manufacturers, will also lose out as they end up haemmoraging their own profits by reducing the return on research investments as well as losing the opportunity to build up a brand like Apple did with their iPod.

6 month life cycle...good or bad? (5, Interesting)

bje2 (533276) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631405)

Analyzing the 6-month life cycle from the different points of view...

Consumer - on one hand (as the second link points out), this is great for the consumer, because newer models causes the prices on the older models to drop, and then the consumer can possibly afford "more" camera then they otherwise could...of course, the flip side to this, is that you have to be satisfied with a camera that is "out of date"...

Retail Store - although I'm sure all major electronic stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, etc, have excellent supply chain management, I still gotta believe they get stuck holding the bag a little when new cameras are announced every six months, and suddenly all of the current cameras they had in stock suddenly become devalued...

Camera Company - obviously this is good for them...we've seen it time and time again, with cell phones being the most recent example...even though a consumer may be happy with their current product, they just have to have the most up-to-date, shiny, feature filled version of whatever it may be (cell phone, camera, pc, etc)...

The bottom line is, I still think it's good for the consumer...look what this same type of accelerated cycle has done for the home PC...parents everywhere can now buy much more PC then they could ever use, very cheaply...yoou just gotta be able to live with not having the best and fastest thing out there (ugh, this might be the wrong forum to propose that idea)...

Re:6 month life cycle...good or bad? (3, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631558)

of course, the flip side to this, is that you have to be satisfied with a camera that is "out of date"..

The major bad thing about this is that the more rapid the product cycle, the crappier the firmware or supporting desktop software is, making us more and more dependent on frequent and numerous software updates to get relatively bug-free operation.

With ultra-fast product cycles, we're looking at software obsolence and product abandonment far faster than we otherwise would have. The device may still work, but have critical bugs/problems/issues that aren't resolved without buying the next item in the product cycle.

It's obviously something less of an issue with devices that have a non-proprietary data interface (eg, memory cards), but something like the iPod really needs its proprietary software to function as designed. But it's still a critical issue regardless if the firmware inside the device doesn't work right.

I love updatable firmware, I hate the fact that it's become an excuse for manufacturers to release broken products and sometimes fix them as they go.

Re:6 month life cycle...good or bad? (3, Insightful)

oolon (43347) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631575)

Currently there is a camera revolution going on so it is natural to expect to have alot of choice and new models. If you want to look at a mature market look at the VCR one, there is very little choice in the highstreet all are almost idendical, and the price is very low. I expect you will see the cameras that Minolta is removing are not well placed in the market, so they have taken the decision to replace a model that is only 6 months old with one that will perform better in the market, sound sensible to me! Considering the current size of the market and the lose of market share if they don't do this. I don't expect we will see a 6 months cycle, however to do expect to see poorly performing (in sales) cameras to be quickly replaced and better selling ones to be more slowly replaced.

All this will continue while the market is red hot (which is great for the customer). When it slows down the choice will not be so good but atleast everything will be cheap!

James

Re:6 month life cycle...good or bad? (1)

leandrod (17766) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631582)

>
you have to be satisfied with a camera that is "out of date"...

Which is a nice way to get out of the rat race. I fail to see a problem here.

Re:6 month life cycle...good or bad? (3, Funny)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631587)

Yea...great for the consumer. What about us folks who have to have the latest and the greatest but can't afford it? I've accumulated almost $3 trillion in debt thanks to products like this. Guns, planes, toilet seats, etc...the list goes on. The manufacturers all tell me this new one is better then what I have, so I *have* to get them. Please stop forcing my hand.

George Bush

Re:6 month life cycle...good or bad? (2, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631768)

even though a consumer may be happy with their current product, they just have to have the most up-to-date, shiny, feature filled version of whatever it may be (cell phone, camera, pc, etc)... - are you sure that's everyone you are talking about? I am not even sure that's the majority. When it comes to cell-phones I prefer to stick with the older simpler model [motorola.com] to all of the feature creaping contraptions that I see mostly teens use nowadays. I would have still be using my old Samsung from 4 years ago, but it just did not have good reception any more.

One way it is bad for the consumer (3, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631775)

Whenever you shorten a product development cycle, you always cut into QA and testing time. Shorter development cycles will inevitably lead to lower quality for the consumer over the long run.

Now, whether this lower quality will even be noticeable, or whether it is a valid tradeoff for increased functionality, is yet to be seen.

Microsoft et al. (4, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631409)


I've often wondered why Microsoft and the other main software companies have not abandonded the idea of major product releases. Incremental releases (like those in the OSS world) make a lot more sense, as the product then evolves more organically. There is no real reason why MS couldn't start doing this for it's products. It would be much easier to get people to "subscribe" to products then, which would be good in the long term for Microsoft's revenue stream.

Re:Microsoft et al. (1)

chibimagic (157104) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631434)

Didn't they already try this "subscription" method, with horrid results?

Re:Microsoft et al. (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631460)

Didn't they already try this "subscription" method, with horrid results?

Yes, they tried the subscription method, but in conjunction with the major release model of software production - with horrid results. People understandably did not like paying for nothing. If they did increamental releases, people would be happier with a subscription payment.

Re:Microsoft et al. (2, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631499)

For the vast majority of people incremental releases are a pain in the ass. I dont want to install an application that has partial or buggy implementation and have to continually install newer versions to get over these issues. Release early/often might work for a limited developer audience but for a mass market I think people will just say if you cant do it properly first time then dont bother.

Re:Microsoft et al. (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631561)

I dont want to install an application that has partial or buggy implementation

You shouldn't have to. We're talking about incremental releases, i.e. releasing small changes frequently, rather than large changes infrequently. That's got nothing to do with how the software is tested and quality controlled.

Re:Microsoft et al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631556)

because it leads to the idea that what your getting now is an incomplete product

Re:Microsoft et al. (1)

scoot241 (794509) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631702)

Personally, I don't see this happening anytime soon. Every time a major version of Windows comes out, it turns into a media frenzy. I remember the news showing the first person to buy a copy of Windows 95 in the world the day it came out. This media frenzy alone keeps Microsoft on its major product release schedule (or lack thereof). However, all the OEM support could turn the subscription products into a gold mine real quickly. I don't think people would go for it though. Why pay for updates when I'm used to getting them for free?

Been that way in fashion forever (2, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631411)

The fashion industry has been dealing with this forever, and I predict similar trends will appear in music (closing fast), and then computers. By the time you buy something that's 'in fashion' at a traditional store, the designers have already released the next season's line. There is absolutely no way to stay 100% current, unless you are a designer yourself, and even then, your wardrobe will always be off by about 3 seasons.

Re:Been that way in fashion forever (1)

picklepuss (749206) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631601)

Yes, but fashion goods tend to be a whole lot more disposable than hard goods. They are also seasonal because of... the seasons. If you spent a lot of money on a blue wool peacoat this winter and wore it for three months, then next winter you buy a different winter coat that's in style... is that still a 3 month product cycle? It's not like you're going out wearing it today (unless you're in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case your coat was outdated when you bought it). Are this years spring colors outdated by this years summer colors, or are this years spring colors replaced by next years spring colors?

Also, the designers right NOW are designing for the spring and summer of 2005... so if you're a designer you won't be 3 seasons off. That would be like saying that if you worked for Konico and today had the prototype of the next cycle's camera.

And don't forget, there will always be things within any market that basically ignore trends: Levis 501s, etc.

This is an advertisement (3, Insightful)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631417)

So, how much did Konica Minolta pay for this ad? I mean, if you analyze the actual content, there's NOTHING to this that would signify this post is a "story" or even remotely newsworthy.

Welcome to Slashdot, where we debate the commonplace if we can't find a better way to work in an advertisement.

Re:This is an advertisement (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631507)

And with the one day story cycle, you can debate it again tommorow!

Re:This is an advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631541)

What are you talking about? Complain about the photographyblog.com guy using Slashdot to plug his site, but what does this have to do with Konica?

Re:This is an advertisement (1)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631578)

Why would you post this comment as an AC?

Does it ever strike you as odd that stories that hit the front page about products often have some of the least interesting history behind them?

Dogbert (4, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631418)

Seems they finally figured out Dogbert's release system. In order to make more money, you need to make more products, and release them more frequently. Also it doesn't account for any crappiness in the product, just that more of any given line will produce more revenue to the company.

Bad for quality, great for the corporate stocks!

Re:Dogbert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631577)

Bad for quality, great for the corporate stocks!

In the short term, only! Of course by that time the asshat responsible will have cashed in his stock options and moved on to ruin yet another company!

plus 5, troll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631426)

towels& on the floor as fittinglY Wall: *BSD faces a hobbyist dilettante

Scotty Has Alzheimer's (-1, Offtopic)

nebaz (453974) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631429)

James Doohan, known to Star Trek fans as Scotty has Alzheimer's disease. He is 84. This is truly a sad day. Link here [cnn.com]

Re:Scotty Has Alzheimer's (-1, Offtopic)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631480)

"Doohan, 84, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's "within the last couple months," agent Steven Stevens told The Associated Press.(...snip...)Doohan has lived in Redmond for almost a dozen years with his wife, Wende. They have a 4-year-old daughter and two older sons, and Doohan has four children from a previous marriage, Stevens said."
A 4 year old kid at 84? Go the Irascible Scotsman!!!

SlashDotted already (0, Offtopic)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631435)

Both links down already.
Guess that'll tell me not to answer an e-mail just as a new story comes in.
Oh well, at leat I'll be able to get the info from the first few posters - after all, nobody would first post without RTFA'ing would they..?

Faster != Better (2, Insightful)

holy_smoke (694875) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631457)

Marketing folks don't understand that though. To them, faster product cycles = quicker access to profits and market advantage.

To engineering it means rushed deveopment schedules, hurried design, tooling, testing, and release to production.

Its a delicate scale. Push it too far towards marketing and you risk significant quality problems. Push it too far toward engineering and you miss your market window.

This is news? (2, Interesting)

Nimrangul (599578) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631459)

Hardware isn't the only thing that uses a six month production cycle, OpenBSD has been doing it for a while now.

Honestly, technology does advance fast enough in some fields to support this kind of cycle. It's kind of hard to do it in a more matured area, like automobiles or household appliances, but when the technology behind digital cameras is constantly improving it only makes sense to push it out quickly; before that new technology is made obsolete.

I hope not! (3, Interesting)

Halo- (175936) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631462)

The product I work on is currently on roughly a quarterly schedule. (Our customers demand it.) The problem is, that with development that "fast" most innovation gets throw out the door. Each "release" is pretty much a bug-fix with maybe one or two absolutely-critical new features. The complexity of keeping up with multiple linked development streams is enormous, and the result is more mistakes and a much lower level of code refactoring.

I can't imagine physical products are much different. Sure, you get a new model every 6 months, but what's really changed? Personally, I'd like to wait a year, and get a substantial benefit. My experience is that shorter cycles are good for the marketing droids (who always have vaporware "almost" ready to release) and bad for the customer and the developer.

Oh, and another funny thing. The same customers who demand quarterly releases also bitch about the fact they have to migrate ever four months. I told them there was a simple solution to that problem... :)

Video cards as well (1)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631468)

This has been the case with video cards for as long as I can remember... at least since the Voodoo2.

Versionitis. (5, Interesting)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631470)

One of the things I have disliked about the computer industry and it's constant improvement is what I have started calling Versionitis. It seems that something 'bigger, badder, and faster' is always around the corner. Due to the cost of some of these items it sure makes some consumers go into a infinite loop waiting for the 'next big thing'.

What fails to get mentioned or noticed by consumers is that digital cameras and mega pixels they support have reached a plateau as to what they are used for to why I need that many MP.

3MP was enough for a 8x10 print, 6MP got you into the 13x19 range. anything higher than that just makes the files bigger and can introduce more compression artifacts as you try and reduce the file size with all the detail presented.

I've got a Canon D60 that I bought in 2002. I've been adding lenses and the like over the last few years but the camera itself is a workhorse and I have no MP reason to replace it. however I'd like a few faster things like shutter speed and whatnot more than how many MP they do.

I've had to reign in my self-control quite a few times on big ticket items. It was about 18 months ago when I decided that getting a new computer once a year was stupid and a waste of money. My Powerbook G4 867Mhz is doing me just fine still. The only thing that'd force an upgrade is manipulating larger MP camera images in Photoshop, so keeping everything in check on upgrades sure helps keep money for other things.

Re:Versionitis. (2, Informative)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631586)

The new 8MP cameras produce tremendous amounts of noise at low ISO.

For the price of these 8MP cameras, you can get the canon rebel digital or even the Nikon D70 and you have a quality digital SLR, ability to change lens, and excellent results at low ISOs.

I just bought a Canon 10D. As the parent said in this thread, I just need the lenses and this package will be good for me for years...

Re:Versionitis. (2, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631740)

Say what you like, but I'd prefer to have 7.2 MP for an 8x10 print. That is calculated at 300dpi. 200dpi is noticibly blurrier in a photo print (3 MP). If I keep the print at arm's length, it might not be noticible, but at half arm's length, it is obvious to me.

Down to the power of IT (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631473)

This reminds me of something I read about digital cameras once. Apparently the product cycle for digital cameras is so rapid that one camera, by the time it was awarded camera of the year, was already out of production.

I suppose with PC assistence, designing and building just about anything has become easier. It used to take forever for ideas and techniques to spread. Nowadays if your stuck at anything, you can google for the answer. Applies more to software design, but at least it's easier for designers to find components now. Didn't it take only 6 months for the iPod designers complete the design from the outside in, using off the shelf parts. That would have been a lot harder if they didn't have the net and emails I'd wager.

my luck/purchase cycle (2, Funny)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631474)

I read about the newest products, and usually salivate and plan to purchase some, manage to time it so that the first real price drop hits the week after I buy

I purchased a 799$ camera that then went to 799$ with a 100$ rebate, about 10 days after I purchased. then to 699 after the return policy/price match date ran out..
I've also done this with cell phones, and cpu's

Re:my luck/purchase cycle (3, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631548)

Could you post when you're about to buy something so that the rest of us know to hold off purchasing for a week? Thanks!

cheap cheap cheap (2, Informative)

A_GREER (761429) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631475)

I think it ia WALL*MARTidous, everyone wants the best stuff cheap, companies are trying to meet the demand, but there are still a few people who want quality, look at PCs, dell==CHEAP, they sell zillions of units a year, vs. say aleinware, or apple who combined don even touch half of dell, but have MUCH better quality.

Re:cheap cheap cheap (1)

bje2 (533276) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631570)

yeah, dell does equal cheap...that's what they are!...cheap pcs for the home user...do you know what it says on the title bar when you bring up alienware's home page [alienware.com]...it says Innovate High-Performance Custom PC's...when my mom (or the millions of other mom's) are looking for a PC to do their e-mail and shop on iQVC, they don't need the latest and greatest video card or flat panel monitor...they just want affordability...

...why was the Toyota Camry the best selling car practically every year in the 90's??? because it was reliable and affordable, just like Dell is...

Re:cheap cheap cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631681)

>that's what they are!...cheap pcs for the home user...

Actually over 70% of Dell's sales are to the corporate sector.

Oh no... what will we do? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631494)

VW Beetle! Saaave us!

Re:Oh no... what will we do? (1, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631633)

Bad example. If ever there was a product that needed improvement during its life cycle, it was the Beetle. How VW managed to avoid doing that, still baffles me.

Re:Oh no... what will we do? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631738)

The Beetle was like a good woman:
Round, simple, cheap, and cute.

It's All About Creating Artificial Demand (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631532)

This is yet another method in a long string of concocted schemes to stimulate artificial demand. Do we need a new car every year? Of course not but if we tweak the headlight to point in a different direction we can pawn it off as something new and improved and play to the elementary school insecurities of the American consumer and the need to have to have the latest fashion trend so as to be ahead of the Jones'. Look at the durable goods industry, appliances used to have a generic shape and would last consumers decades, now they are purposely designed with color patterns and quickly dating exterior body kit panels so that they can be disposable products in a couple of years when they break down or become rapidly dating fashion faux pas displaced by the next color change and bodykit panels.

Re:It's All About Creating Artificial Demand (1)

Retired Replicant (668463) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631636)

This hits it on the head. Technology is plagued by customer expectations of constantly falling prices. Manufacturers who come out with "new" models more frequently are just attempting to combat this price pressure. They hope that by tweaking a couple of meaningless things and slapping a new model number on, they will be able to justify a higher price in the mind of consumers. They are capitalizing on the fact that we are all conditioned to believe that newer=better.

McNasty's Law (2, Funny)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631566)

"The number of nervous breakdowns amongst staff doubles for every halving of the product cycle time."

"If you're enjoying your work, you're not working hard enough." - Scottish proverb.

Konica Minolta merger (2, Insightful)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631611)

Konica-Minolta recently merged and before, Minolta was behind in the digital game. It is likely that they had a lot of R&D going on, but due to the merger, things were unclear and it took time to get things settled and to get products out the door (with the new name).

Lets face it (3, Insightful)

arieswind (789699) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631690)

Lets face it, the average consumer does not have the time or money to rush out and buy the new model every 6 months... I know that I for one dont replace my electronics until they break, or become very inconvinient to use, and I think most technology consumers are more that way than some tech obsessed people who replace everything they own the second something new comes out

Another Opinion (4, Interesting)

richard_willey (79077) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631699)

Here's my perspective based on far too much time working as a Product Manager:

I strongly prefer development models that are based on incremental releases that ship at regular intervals. Ideally, I prefer systems in which a new version of the product ships one every 4 monthes. Those features/functions that are "ready" get included in a release. Features that aren't ready will be slipped until the next version.

This development process requires MUCH more work to set up. Code needs to be modular enough that features can be added/subtracted from a candidate without destablizing the entire system. Furthermore, there isn't much down time for release engineering. As soon as one release has shipped out the door, the next one is almost ready for testing.

With this said and done: From my perspective, companies that focus on a small number of "Hail Mary" releases produce crappy products. If you only shipping one release every 18 -24 months then EVERYTHING gets shipped with that release, regardless of the quality of the code. Equally significant, your release engineering process inevitably gets very sloppy since the individuals running this never get sufficient practice. Finally, you are inevitably forced to push out large numbers of patches to fix all the crap that contaminated your original version. These patch releases re-introduce most of the same problems that crop up with a "regular" release model, but without the right infrastructure to support this model.

Far better to bite the bullet and design for success from the beginning...

To think things are going to get worse... (0, Troll)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631709)

Consumerism is bad for us all, its not worth buying the latest and greatest all the time
    1. http://www.verdant.net/society.htm

the perfect product (3, Insightful)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 9 years ago | (#9631714)

its all marketing, they can release exactly the same product (and i mean identical) except for model number and people will buy it for more instead of the older version... its an old idea, where someone designs a perfect (literally) product, they still need to make the standard version worse, release some inferior and better versions but keep headroom above to keep releasing updates, if they release the product as a perfect one therell be a rush to buy it, but then once half your friends have it you dont want it anymore because you want to have something different... anyway...

Goa7 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9631721)

hear you. Also, if Join in. It can be way. It used to be OpenBSD guys. They I enver did. It to stick something Than its Windows mutated testicle of was after a long
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