3.2 SPECIAL CASES OF THE PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE CURVE
Not all parts conform to the six product life cycle stages presented here. Some parts undergo a false start and die out or may be associated with a niche market. Some parts may also be revitalized after the decline stage. Other possibilities can arise due to various economic, social, and environmental conditions.
A false start typically suggests that a part starts out with a period of strong growth, only to stall because of one or more of the following factors:
1. Introduction of a superior competing part.
2. Improvement of a competing part.
3. Identification of a problem associated with the part.
4. Failure to reach the critical mass that allows economies of scale to be realized.
5. Loss of a unique and compelling application for the part.
In 2000, Whirlpool and Cisco announced the first refrigerator with web access during the Consumer Electronics Show (Cisco, 2000). This refrigerator is an example of a false start, and as of 2010 web-accessible refrigerators are still not widespread.
Niche parts generally have some unique applications and thus have a relatively low but steady sales level. An example is GaAs ICs, which have found a niche market in telecommunications, military, and space applications.
Decline can often be delayed or reversed by revitalizing the original part. Defining new market segments, new applications, or creating a new image for the part and thereby increasing the demand can cause revitalization.