I was listening to a podcast and someone used an analogy that resonated with me.

English: Apparently a 1960 Plymouth Fury, seen...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They likened a new product to what the car companies did when they really didn’t have any new innovations to add to a new model so they added fins. The fins didn’t do anything but they gave the car a new look and made all the old cars look…old!

I suppose every business that produces ongoing lines of product – phone manufacturers, cars companies, TV makers, etc. – are under a fair amount of pressure to add features constantly so you’ll feel the need to update a perfectly good item for a newer model.  After all, if we used many products to the end of their useful lives, the economy would probably be in much worse shape.  I’m not sure, however, that simply “adding fins” in the figurative sense is the best route for most businesses.

If you’re going to produce something new, make it something new.  If the new stuff is not a reason to buy the product – and in my mind “fins” don’t do it – they need to make the product demonstrably better.  It should be something users will employ on a regular basis, and preferably they’re something unique.  Adding, say, a soda can cool zone to a car doesn’t, in my mind, fit the bill (yes, that’s a real thing).  Adding dozens of new features to Word, which Microsoft is notorious for doing, that 99% of users won’t use and are just clutter and confusion for a huge percentage is self-defeating.  In many ways, phone manufacturers are the worst.

I love to buy new stuff.  I won’t buy it, however, just for the sake of doing so.  I suspect most consumers think as I do.  I’m waiting for the day when the press release comes out saying “there’s nothing new this year – we made a great product that we hope you bought and we’re committed to making it better.  We’ll let you know when it really is.”  I’m buying the new model of whatever that is the day it’s released.  I won’t be buying something because the release reads “and now with fins!”


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