which methods will suit product development henceforth?

If we trend product development cycles over the last 50 odd years, we can see a progression from hit and miss; to specific targeted methods; on to creative and lateral thinking; and lately onto high technology computing for quick screening of ideas, then the hard prototype using various new RP methods.

Going forward, I believe the methods will be:
Specify the features
Alchemy the technology marriages
Prototype the product

Thus as technology abundance makes it easier to get rid of trying to perfect a small gear in the entire development mechanism, by using licensed technology, one can gain giant strides into the product conceptualizing without the costs. To put what has been said into perspective, assume a company wants to create a toy microscope today. It has the following options:

1- develop the optics and package the product
2- Select the Optics from available off the shelf array, and package a product
3- Select an electronic camera with USB, and software developed by different teams then package it
The paths above all take incrementally shorter time to launch. But option 3 is the most economically viable, as someone else may also get the same idea, so the guy who launches first gets the larger pie. You also don’t need a full fledge optics team, nor a software development. All you need is a good technology manager, and a manufacturing oops vendor development team. You don’t even need to have a factory, even if you pump out in millions. (Look at all the cell phone majors, with OEM base completely free of the costs of running them, but just buy off them to their own specifications).

So is the product designer a non-essential now? Sorry, the twist to the tale lies here, the big guys who sold the small guy the camera, the software and the guys who moulded a parts out are now doing the development, but not for a given customer, but for a larger generalized audience. The catch here is that unless they have a large number of developed technologies on the shelf for a buyer, their sales would be very shaky.

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