What did the 16-year-old Josh Joseph want for the holidays? The Melville, new york, high school junior wanted Apple AirPods. The same wireless earbuds that he’d been waiting patiently since October.
“The best part of a new product is that exciting feeling of waiting as the launch day approaches,” he explained, just before the holiday weekend, with barely concealed annoyance. “I was so let down by the delay, but more by Apple’s inability to pin down an exact date for the release. A company with such a wealth and the scale must be able to consistently deliver on time, and it is disappointing when they are not.”
Joseph was hardly alone. Although a limited amount of the AirPods made and on the market a few days before Christmas, a number of other high-profile products announced this fall, including the Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone and the GoPro Karma drone, were not available for holiday shoppers.
Jonathan Sweetwood, owner of Unique Camera (which sells a variety of audio -, video-and photographic equipment) in Wayne, N. J., explains that when a consumer decides on a product, only to find out that this is not available, it complicates what should be a simple transaction. “With some people, it is,” I have the Apple AirPods,'” says Sweetwood. “But with others, we try to get down to the root of what their needs are and we try to find them a comparable product.”
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What’s behind these disappointing product launches? At least part of the blame goes to Wall Street.
According to Jonathan Yarmis, a former electronics analyst at Gartner and now principal analyst with the Yarmis Group, the reason for this delay is that with the eye at the fair and the expectations of the companies are compressing their product development cycles.
“Everyone feels this huge pressure come on to the market quickly,” he explains. “We go to CES to find out which products came in the next year. Now you go to the CES to see what’s coming on Tuesday.”
Although any product that is not available this season, followed his own way—some were recalled because of safety problems, and others were only delayed—Yarmis see a common theme: an accelerated product development, with little time for testing and even less time to fix a problem as soon as it is discovered.
When there is a glitch, Yarmis explains, it often results in finger pointing between competing factions within the company. “You have two conflicting groups within an organization,” he says. “The marketing people say: ‘Now! Yesterday!’, and the development of the product guys that say: “This is not simply a question of the issuance of a press release. There are technological challenges. There are testing challenges.'”
More and more Yarmis notes, the marketers are winning these intramural battles. What does that mean for you? “The consumer is now the beta-tester,” Yarmis says, half jokingly.
As for Joseph, he has not on his quest for 2016, the year of the AirPod. He was looking for a site called iStockNow and tracked down a couple at a nearby Apple Store, Long Island Roosevelt Field Mall.
Here is a look at the five “would, coulda, shoulda” products, by the end of 2016, who stumbled on the path of the introduction of the consumers hands.
Samsung Galaxy Note7
The Product: Samsung’s top-of-the-line smartphone was introduced in August to compete with the iPhone 7 for this fall phone upgraders.
The Problem: Shortly after the release, reports began to filter in that the lithium-ion batteries of the phones started to explode. That led to a recall, and then as replacement phones have also started to catch fire, to a second, broader recall that resulted in all of the phones are pulled from the market, sending consumers to other models.
The Solution: After the recalls and a Federal Aviation Administration ban on Note7s on aircraft—Samsung finally gave up on the introduction of a Note7 model, and even took measures to make it impossible to use any Note7 phones still in the consumers hands.
The Product: Apple’s iPhone 7 was particularly notable for how it not should be: a traditional headphone jack. While Apple fans about the dongle question, Apple expects the AirPod wireless earbuds that announced at the same time would solve this problem.
The Problem: The iPhone 7 on the market in October, but the Air Pods remained in limbo. The company continued to quietly reduce the street date. Apple has not specified the reason for the delay and published reports speculated about the causes, ranging from problems with the Bluetooth on the production of problems. An Apple spokesman referred us to this statement, issued by the company in October: “the beginning of The reaction on the AirPods is incredible. We do not believe in the shipping of a product before it is ready, and we have a little more time for AirPods are ready for our customers.”
The Solution: a few lucky and/or resourceful Apple fans get their AirPods this year, the most users will have to wait until 2017.
GoPro Karma Drone
The Product: The Karma, which folds to fit in a backpack, it was touted as the product that would make drones a mass-market phenomenon.
The Problem: Three weeks after the mid-October introduction, GoPro received reports of several in-flight failures”.k.a. drones fall from the sky. The good news was that there were no injuries or property damage were associated with the failure. GoPro, with a little help from the FAA or the Consumer Product Safety Commission, neither of which claimed jurisdiction over this issue, began its own recall. (Unlike a recall, supported by the regulators, the GoPro effort lacked authority behind the effort to remove the product from the shelf.)
The Resolution: The Karma is an important product for the struggling company, so the GoPro went the extra mile to appease the consumer is inconvenienced. In addition to a full refund, early adopters of the Karma will also have a $300 camera from the company. The Karma is now expected to return to the store shelves early in 2017.
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
The Product: This modestly priced personal flying machine was set to compete with the GoPro Karma for a share of the growing market of casual drone users.
The Problem: ly as a result of the Karma, remember, ask for the Mavic Pro more than the supply. The company failed to make its aggressive October start date and, reportedly began shipping small quantities of pre-ordered drones in November. Later orders were subject to a lag of about two months.
The Resolution: Amazon currently lists the release date for the product, as Feb. 10, 2017.
The Beats by Dr. Dre BeatsX
The Product: Call them AirPods for the fashion-conscious. The Beats version of Apple’s wireless earbuds, which is a part of technology with the AirPods, were also introduced in September, and supposed to be on the market a month later.
The Problems: The BeatsX seemed to share the same logistical problems—and the same delays—if the AirPods. The earbuds were planned to be on the market in mid-October, but that deadline has quietly slipped. Apple now says the BeatsX will be available in February.
The Resolution of: Dr. Dre has no doubt already been a few, but for the rest of us, the Beats X should be available in early 2017.
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