The life cycle of a technology: Why it is so difficult for large companies to innovate

Don Norman, Nielsen-Norman Group,

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 16, 1998


Why is it that good products can fail and inferior products can succeed? The story is complex: it takes a book to explain (see The Invisible Computer). But there are three themes.

The computer industry is now mature. The customers want convenience and value for their money. They want ease of use, emotional appeal. But the computer companies are all teenagers, resisting the pressures to grow up. Too bad. The customer is not well served..

For more discussion see the book, or my essay on The life cycle of a technology.

From Don Norman: I'm based in Silicon Valley, California: my goal is to humanize technology, in part by making it disappear from sight, replaced by a human-centered, task-based family of information-appliances. Easy to learn, easy to use. Easy to understand. But with all the power of enhanced communication, computational systems. Information appliances, where the computer disappears into the tool and becomes


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