Chapter 2. Product Lifecycle


Give me your intuition of the present and I'll give you the past and the future.

 --Ralph Waldo Emerson


The consumer should not always take at face value slogans promulgated by Madison Avenue that products embodying leading-edge technology save time and money. To the contrary, leading-edge technology is not only a time and resource sink, but fraught with risk as well. In this regard, the alchemical conversion of an idea into a product, like the Darwinian adaptation of a species, is rarely perfect on the first iteration. Fresh technology, unlike fresh bread, is not always better.

If new products are at one end of the evolutionary spectrum, at the other end are the dinosaurs—the tired products that have been on the market for years. Whether these products are running shoes, fax machines, or laser printers, there is the ever-present risk of termination of production, like the sudden death of the dinosaurs, with each passing day. For this reason, serious runners buy shoes six or ten pairs at a time in order to avoid the arduous task of finding another make and model that agrees with their particular running style, and prudent office supply managers stock up on laser printer and fax cartridges in anticipation of the discontinuation of product lines.

One of the best models that illustrates this concept is the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) model, depicted in Figure 2.1. The BCG model, which is expressed as a 2 × 2 matrix plotting ...

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