Will Manufacturers Always Overstate their Product's Claims?

Published Sep 30, 2009 00:00 AM
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Integrators frequently lament the problem of over-stating performance claims. It is a fundamental issue in new technology deployments. In a survey article on "Game Changing" security technologies, the CEO of Henry Brothers [link no longer available] states:

"Capabilities will always be overstated by vendors and over-anticipated by end-users — expectation gaps. It has been that way; it always will be that way."

This is because manufacturers have historically controlled the flow of information. This article is a case in point. It simply gathers quotes from a variety of industry people on the technologies they are promoting (e.g., Axis advocates hosted video, OnSSI advocates improved usability, Firetide recommends wireless, etc.). The article makes no attempt to critique or investigate on what really are 'game changers.' This is not an accident but an essential element of businesses funded by manufacturers to promote products.

By contrast, the web is forcing manufacturers to reconsider the risk and penalties for over-stating their claims. We have most recently seen this on the critique/debate on BRS Labs and TimeSight which has over 4000 reads in the 3 weeks since being published.

The old economics favored overstated claims - lots of upside for getting new business, little downside in being attacked or exposed.  As the web grows (whether this site or others), the risk that manufacturers overstated claims will be exposed increases significantly. This changes the economics of misleading integrators and end-users.