Ask Slashdot: Is the Pace of Tech Innovation Spontaneous Or Planned?

dryriver writes:
People who are only mildly tech- or engineering-literate tend to think that innovation is really difficult and expensive, takes years to achieve/discover, and that when something “amazing” is actually discovered, the innovative tech is integrated into products like smartphones or PCs “as soon as is technically possible”.

More tech and engineering literate people I talk to frequently tell me the exact opposite of this, namely that companies often discover an innovative method or technique in their R&D labs, are capable of packaging said method or technique into a product as soon as the next fiscal year, but choose instead to sit on the innovation for several years, bringing it to market only when competitors force them to, or sales of existing-paradigm products start to become lacklustre…at the exact point in time where the sales and profit numbers from selling the innovation are maximized.

One tech market, two very different opinions on how it actually works. So here’s the question. Do we typically get innovation in products “shortly after the necessary techniques are discovered and mastered”, or do we rather get cool innovation handed to us “in a planned fashion” — at a deliberately delayed future date when the manufacturer thinks it will achieve the greatest finanical return from selling the innovation to the end user?

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