Buyers Remorse is a Way of Life in Tech

on October 29, 2012

[dc]H[/dc]ave you ever bought a tech gadget and two weeks later, a better version of it comes out? Or purchased one of the new HDTVs with high resolution and then seen a new version with even higher resolution come out just weeks later for the same price? It may be relatively obsolete after CES in January as all TV makers will introduce their 4K or Ultra HD sets with 4 times the resolution of today’s HDTV’s.

Whether consumers like it or not, buyers remorse is just a way of life in the world of technology and that will never change. How come you ask? Well, there are a lot of reasons but the basic answer lies in the fact that no matter what product a tech company puts out, it is in its DNA to make it better, faster, thinner, lighter or develop a whole host of other tech related advancements that enhance the product further. I have been covering the tech market for 35 years, and this cycle never changes. However, the pace of tech advancements today is faster then I have ever seen in my years of covering technology professionally.

When Apple introduced both the iPhone and the iPad, they pretty much committed to a year long cycle before new models came out. This was because as early as 2003, Apple was updating the iPod every 6 months and consumers were squawking about this pace of upgrades and their buyer’s remorse. So Jobs said at one MacWorld that they were going to start this yearlong cycle to help alleviate those concerns. And this has been the case from then until last week.

So, why did Apple introduce a 4th gen iPad just seven months after the 3rd generation iPad hit the streets? My educated guess is that once Apple perfected the A6 chip, which they introduced in the iPhone 5 and doubled the speed of iPhone, they really wanted to upgrade the iPad as soon as possible so that both products performed at these new processing levels. Having both equal in performance makes a lot of sense because once you use the iPhone 5, you clearly want that same speedy performance in your iPad too.

Keep in mind, Apple does not do R&D then put things into manufacturing over night. The fact that they were going to put an A6 chip in an iPad was probably put in place at least 18 months ago and while they could have held it off until next March, the performance gains they had with the A6 chip was just too good to hold off releasing it until next year.

But this same logic drives much of the tech vendors thinking about product releases. Many Android backers and PC vendors update smartphones, tablets and laptops in 6-month increments. And if a consumer service has new features, it usually gets upgraded even faster, even if it means offering a new device with more advanced features to handle the new services.

When I was a kid, I remember getting a hand held transistor radio so I could listen to baseball games. And I saved up my money to get this particular model that was small and very portable. I literally scraped pennies and dimes together over a period of time so I could buy this particular radio I had seen advertised in the back of Popular Science.

Well, guess what happened. As soon as I got the radio, the newest model was released and as a kid, I had my first bout of buyer’s remorse. And even today, that happens all too often for me even today. But at some point I just have to say that this product will meet my immediate needs and pull the trigger and buy it.

While Apple releasing a new iPad may have come quickly, the same will happen with the Nexus 7. Google is likely to introduce not only a new 10” model soon but also an updated 7” version too, even though the current one hit the market just 4 months ago. And given the pace of technology advancements, I will not be surprised if Amazon upgrades their current Kindle Fire HD six or seven months after the current model came out.

So, the fact that Apple introduced a new iPad not long after the last one came out should not be that upsetting to people. The opposite would be to tell Apple to slow down the pace of innovation and as a technology buyer that is the last thing I want Apple to do. The same goes for Google, Amazon and any other company who delivers innovative products. The key is to understand that what you buy today will meet your needs today since you may not even know what your needs will be tomorrow. That is the job of the tech companies; to anticipate users future needs and drive their R &D in that direction.