My dryer broke down and I need to replace it. It stopped working 3 months ago but I haven’t taken the time to really look into it. It did give me ample time to think about the machines in my life. I have a microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer, refrigerator and all the rest that comes with a modern household.
Interestingly enough most of them are stuck in the past. I was promised a IP connected washing machine that would sense what clothes I would throw at it and adjust accordingly. It would ping me when it would be done and I would be able to start and stop it via my mobile device. My refrigerator would tell me when I would be out of milk and order a new carton. It all sounds so cool.
So why don’t I have it yet?
What is it about these technology fables that keeps them stuck in presentations, demoes and product manager dreams but never make it to my living room? How come all these concepts are always talked about but never launched?
Time magazine called it ” The Parable of the Concept Car” based on a story by Steve Jobs:
“Here’s what you find at a lot of companies. You know how you see a show car, and it’s really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory! What happened was, the designers came up with this really great idea. Then they take it to the engineers, and the engineers go, ‘Nah, we can’t do that. That’s impossible.’ And so it gets a lot worse. Then they take it to the manufacturing people, and they go, ‘We can’t build that!’ And it gets a lot worse.”
So is that it? Should we simply blame the engineers and manufacturing people?