Saturday, 4 September 2010

Consumer technology: driven by technology?

Is the consumer technology market driven by technological innovation or consumer demand?

Obviously sales cannot be made without consumer demand, however companies are skilled at creating demand, making consumers want products that they mightn't otherwise want. So the question is: do comsumer technology companies make products to meet demand, or do they make products that they can make, and then shape consumer demand.

Consumer demand

There are many consumer technology products that consumers want, but that technology cannot currently (or ever) provide. For example, consumers want teleportation (safety concerns aside). Why do consumers want teleportation? Because they want travel to be more convenient, faster.

The same is true of more realisable technological advances: consumers want computers that are quicker, that start up quicker, that download information from the internet quicker. They want portable devices that have longer battery lives.

So what do consumers want? A few:

  • Save time
  • Save effort
  • Save money
  • Status
  • Reduce risk to friends, family, property
Is there a complete list somewhere of all the (types of) things consumers want?

In summary: there is always consumer demand for the benefit given by a product (or product feature), but not necessarily demand for the specific mechanism by which that demand is met.

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