The Danger of Pre-Announcing Products

By John Honovich, Published Mar 30, 2009, 08:02pm EDT

It is critical to check when new products will actually be available. While vendors may announce and show a 'new' product at a conference, that product may not be available for months or even up to 1 year after its announcement. 

This is especially dangerous with megapixel H.264 cameras. Most manufacturers are pre-announcing their products by 6 months each.

Why do I need to check?

Vendors generally do not state clearly when the product will be available. This is usually hidden in the details or only provided if you ask. Worse, these are often optimistic estimates that can be off by months.

The product shown to you may be an alpha version or a prototype. This may be good enough for short demos on a trade show floor but not close to the level needed for general release.

What problems does this cause?

Lots of people design new systems based on what they find on the show. Because of pre-announcements, a project may start in a few months but the critical new product is still not available. This can cause expensive cost over-runs or delays.

In a more general sense, it creates confusion amongst end users and specifiers as they try to figure out what's real and what's available.

Why does it happen?

Manufacturers do this because it gives them an advantage over rivals. The press happily reports the announcement. Attendees often overlook the timing issue. Manufacturers who pre-announce get more leads and more projects at the expense of their direct competitors.

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Of course, this fosters a vicious cycle where other manufacturers feel compelled to match or else lose momentum/future sales.

What should I do?

First, always ask. Never assume that an announcement means the product is available. In fact, you are more likely to be correct if you assume the opposite.

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