Deciding which new products to launch during the holiday shopping season


I’ve been keeping track of the new product announcements from several of the major wireless carriers, in the hopes of identifying a suitable replacement for my current cell phone. As the holiday shopping season approached, I expected all of the carriers to release a flurry of long-rumored handsets. However, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and none of the new models I’ve been waiting for were ever released.

Instead, it appears that the wireless providers chose to focus on promoting their “4G” networks. Ironically, there are very few phones available for these faster networks right now, so consumers have a very limited set of products to choose from. If most of the 4G phones won’t be available until after the holidays, why are the wireless carriers so concerned with advertising their 4G capabilities?

I’m sure part of this behavior is a classic “keeping up with the Joneses” scenario. Sprint was the first to announce a 4G network, so Verizon and T-Mobile feel like they have to match it, at least from a marketing point of view. But is the holiday shopping season the best time to take up this sort of battle? In short, no.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you’re releasing a new product or service in the period leading up to or during the holiday shopping season, make sure it’s something that consumers can buy and use today. If the new product relies on some other element (such as network upgrades) that won’t be ready until the following year, then don’t release it yet. Instead, focus your holiday efforts on introducing new products that are going to amaze people from the get-go, and leave the pie in the sky stuff for later.