Gadgets and Gear: Understanding Product Life Cycles

by Bill Fisher


Whenever you’re thinking about making a big technology purchase, it’s a good idea to do as much research as you can. You’ll want to make sure that whatever you buy has all of the features you want and that you’re getting it for the right price. But there’s another important question to consider whenever making a purchase like this: Is a new version likely to be released anytime soon?

For example, consumer electronics like computers and smartphones are updated regularly. Most major smartphone brands—including the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy—introduce a new model every year. These models usually offer improvements over the older models, like larger screens and improved battery life. A similar update cycle happens with other products like TVs, cars, and refrigerators. Fortunately, figuring out the best time to buy isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

Researching Product Life Cycles
There are several ways to research the likelihood of a new product release, including searching online for the product’s release date. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in a search, try some of these websites, which keep track of new and upcoming models for all types of products:

Once you have a good idea of a probable release date, you’ll need to weigh your options. Does the newer model have features you want? How long would you have to wait for the new model to be released? Is another model likely to become cheaper anytime soon? If you’re having trouble making a decision, you might consider making a pros-and-cons list for each product you’re considering. You can then make a decision based on cost, features, and availability.

It’s also important to keep in mind that information online isn’t always accurate. This is especially true when trying to learn about a potential product release. Many news sites—including those noted earlier—post rumors and speculation about unreleased products, but it doesn’t necessarily make them true.

Before making any decisions, it’s a good idea to verify the information with at least a few different websites and sources. You might also want to ask friends and family for advice, if they’ve purchased a similar item. In the end, making a quick decision after too little research could actually do more harm than good. With a little time and effort, you should be ready to make an informed decision that can save time and money.


Fisher is an instructional designer with, a program of Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina Inc. For more information, visit