Vaporware Wars

By Mike Anderson
Published on: March 17, 2017

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This is Part 1 in a 6-part series.

What is it with the manufacturers at CEDIA showing new products every year that don’t ship when promised, if ever?  Most of those vendors don’t intentionally set you up to be berated by your customer for not delivering on time, or even worse, finding out at the last minute that the one critical feature you need “will be in the next release”.

Developing even the simplest product is hard work, with hundreds of steps.  Everything needs to go just right to finish on time, and Murphy is a frequent visitor to Product Development teams.

I am not going to defend the practice of showing “vaporware” (Products that are not close to being ready to ship and may not be for a year or more).   Hopefully, in this series of articles, we can provide some insight into the process to help you better understand the challenges involved, and provide some ways for you to help your favorite suppliers with their new products.

Manufacturing companies have different processes for product development.  Whatever the process, the essential steps are the same:

  • Product Definition – We have an idea.  Is this a product we should build? Does it fit our company? Does our customer need this solution?  What features should it have?
  • Product Investigation –  What technologies do we need?  Have we done this before?  If not, do we know someone that has?  If not, can we learn how?  What price point will work for our customers?  Can we build it profitably?  What resources will we use internally?  What resources will we need to outsource?
  • Product Design –  Industrial Design; Electrical Design; Mechanical Design; Software
  • Product Preparation – Packaging Design; Literature; Marketing Plan; Manufacturing Plan; Service Training; Tech Support Training; Parts Purchasing; Tooling
  • Pilot Build – Tooling; Beta Testing; Product Design Review
  • Production – Manufacturing; Test Plans; Quality Plans; Inspection Plans
  • Shipping – Logistics; Warehousing; Selling

We’ll look at these steps in more detail, offering insight into what is really going on behind the scenes, and offering some tips for you to help your favorite suppliers with the process.  With a better understanding, you will also be more aware of which of those new products might be real, and able to avoid those that will never see the light of day.

To read Part 2 – How Products are Chosen for Development – Go here.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson

Mike is the CEO of AVidea Group, a firm that provides product development service for consumer technology companies. Previously, he was founder and president of TiO, and worked in the industry for notable manufacturers Russound, Niles Audio and JVC. He holds an MBA from Cal State.

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