Not wanted

Too often technology companies produce products and services that the consumer does not want.

by World Business

In such cases, companies may have good reason to like their new creation but they may not have bothered to find out if it solves a pressing consumer problem. If it does not, then it is simply a solution looking for a problem. One classic blunder was the Picturephone produced by AT&T in 1964. In spite of customer feedback that indicated that the new product wasn't liked or needed, the company stormed ahead, predicting sales of 3 million units in 20 years. The product flopped.

Microsoft's Tablet PC - similar to a laptop but fitted with extras such as pens, touch screens and handwriting-recognition software - launched in 2001, but ended up with disappointing sales of only 500,000. Satellite radio, on the other hand, looks set to succeed because it will provide more content from further reaches of the globe. Therefore, unlike the other examples, it is a solution to a problem and not a solution looking for a problem.

What were they thinking?
Pip Coburn
Across the Board, July/August 2006

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