Product Development

Resources for Improving Product Development Department Operations

  • What is Product Development?

    The Product Development function is responsible for generating ideas related to new products or services, assessing their viability and, if found to be viable, briging them to market. Companies typically see product development as the first stage of generating and commercializing a new product or service within the overall strategic process of product lifecycle management. Product Development team members are also responsible for improving existing products to grow current market share.
  • The History of Product Development

    Modern product development involves research, testing, positioning, differentiation and several other facets. This, of course, was not always the case. Product options used to consist of an area’s available goods, which were usually limited to the crops from a neighbor’s farm or the goods of a local craftsman or peddler. Brands and developed products did not appear in print advertisements until the late nineteenth century. The process of manufacturing, namely assembly-line techniques and interchangeable parts, made it possible to mass-produce uniform products. Advancements in communication (the telephone) and transportation (airplanes, rail networks) allowed products to be shipped to the doorstep of remote customers. Goods such as cigarettes, canned food and soap got brand names. Customers could buy brand-name products at famous stores such as Sears, Macy’s or Marshall Fields, or from mail-order catalogs as transportation became less costly during the early twentieth century. Consequently, competition between brands became fierce. To lure new customers, each brand used advertising to proclaim how it was different and should be preferred to similar products or services.
  • Modern Trends in Product Development

    Great product design develops in tandem with new technology (Dieter Rams). Apple, a bastion of innovative product development, designs each of its products with future technology applications in mind. Look at their line of products: The iPod (2001), iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010) share similar user interfaces (as well as physical designs), developing each generation into a more all-encompassing user experience as new technology allows for more innovative design and functionality (in other words, the iPhone is an iPod than can make calls and the iPad is a big iPhone that can sort of make calls.).

    Apple, like many other leading technology companies (Samsung, Microsoft, Google), has embraced ideas and suggestions from their army of loyal customers. The Apple App Store and the software development kits (SDKs) for iOS and Android allow communities of users and developers to review and improve the products they use every day. As the “cloud” and other web-based technologies continue to develop, product development groups face the challenge of adapting their product design to meet the rising expectations of the consumer.

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