Gadget fatigue wearing out consumers

Could there possibly be such a thing as too many gadgets?  Apparently the answer is yes. “Gadget fatigue” is a new term being thrown around, and many of you are probably feeling it.

The market is frequently flooded with waves of new gadgets, such as what we’ve recently been seeing with tablets. Often times, however, many of the devices are only slightly different from other offerings. For example, after the iPad came out there was a sudden onslaught of devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, the Blackberry Playbook, the HP TouchPad, the LG Optimus Pad, the HTC Flyer, the Acer Iconia Tab, the Kindle Fire…you get the point.  Likewise, “upgraded” devices are released shortly after the previous version and with only minimal tweaks.  Some consumers have also expressed feeling as though some gadgets or features are being pushed out before they are actually ready for the marketplace.

The “gadget fatigue” occurs when the devices begin to pile up in the inventory of the makers ahead of consumer demand.  Sometimes, this fatigue will cause a gadget to fail.  Such was the case with the Blackberry Playbook and HP TouchPad.  With the extreme amount of competition in the gadget world, if a product isn’t the best it can possibly be, it gets lost in the shuffle. Interestingly, a study done by Underwriters Laboratories found that 90% of manufacturers think they are at or ahead of the curve, despite the fact that consumers don’t always seem to feel the same way.

I’ve often wondered why there is such a break-neck pace of releasing updates to products that weren’t even in existence a couple of years ago.  There seems to be two theories: 1) technology is naturally changing so quickly that it outpaces the consumer desire for new features (we still think the original we bought a mere 3 months ago is pretty cool…) and 2) companies are simply trying to stay competitive in the market, so they continually release new versions with “upgrades” that offer very minimal changes.  To stay relevant in the market you have to be latest and greatest and most exciting (in theory, anyway).

What do you think?  Should manufacturers hold back a big on developments and upgrades until they are mature and ready, ensuring that the consumers are ready and eager as well?  Or is the fast pace of technology part of what makes it all so exciting?

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