Fast Company's New Motto: Don't Innovate! Stagnate!
By Ken Magill
For the latest evidence that we are the most spoiled people in all of human history, look no further than Fast Company magazine’s crusade against “product spam.”
What’s product spam? Scores of nearly identical electronics with minor tweaks. According to Fast Company, choice is a bad thing.
In a year-end post last week, Fast Company patted itself on the back for a righteous stand it took against product spam in November:
“[W]orn thin after a year of reading about scores of nearly identical gadgets promoted in very similar moodily lit adverts, we urged: ‘We are living in a new age of austerity. Environmentalism is no longer just a crunchy cause, but also a corporate mandate. Simple is good. So why has product spam spun out of control? Perhaps HP (and others) didn't get the memo? Whatever the reason, one thing is now painfully clear: Product spam must stop!’ We cited HP for spamming the shelves of your local computer store with incredibly similar computers, each bearing slight innards tweaks and obscure product names, but we threw mud at smartphone makers too--firms like RIM that desperately try the shotgun effect to market success by launching many similar products in the hope that one hits the target. It's bad for the soul, bad for shopping, bad for the environment, we wailed.”
The post doesn’t explain why offering a bunch of choices in electronics rather than offering a small number of significantly differentiated products is bad for the environment.
Probably because there is no explanation that passes the guffaw test.
And I guess the fact that I had one of my computers custom built rather than buy one of the many options made available to me by product spammers makes me a soulless blot on nature.
Only a member of the most spoiled, self-entitled, sanctimonious generation in world history could complain about the unprecedented choice and abundance we have today.
And how much you want to bet Mr. Sanctimonious Fast Company writer has an iPad, a smartphone, a desktop computer and a laptop, or some similar combination of gadgets?
It apparently hasn’t occurred to the editorial staff at Fast Company that so-called product spam is probably not so much a desperate shotgun marketing tactic, but more likely innovation in response to what sophisticated market research has indicated consumers want or will want.
I don’t have access to the market research of tech giants such as HP, so I can’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. But neither can Fast Company. And only one of us has the audacity to try and tell electronics manufacturers how to manage their lines.
If HP or others launch too many similar products, the market will inform them of their mistake and if they want to survive, they’ll respond accordingly.
It really is that simple.
Oh, and calling something spam that isn’t unsolicited electronic messaging of some sort is lame.