Outdated manufactured connectors can turn into a monster. How do you discontinue a product that is no longer fits the strategy of their market? What can customers do to protect their designs?
One aspect of product management that people talk about in theory but rarely practice is the product life cycle. That is, we can birth and grow a product but it is difficult to retire one. After patents elapse, every year there are new competitors with lower pricing and more focused support. Declining market share and lower margins are the result. How do you (or should you) kill a product that is no longer as profitable?
How to decide
The easiest way to know that a product should be killed or sold off is when it no longer fits the company’s distinctive competence and market strategy. Regardless of the costs, a product that doesn’t make sense in the context of the rest of your products just confuses your customers.
Customers can take clues from websites that no longer promote, increased leadtimes and lack of support. Lack of expertise within the company cannot stay hidden and is displayed with lack of urgency of response – with customer service and sales bearing the brunt of anger from the customer base. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer with a problem than finding that the product’s vendor knows little about its own product.
The downside of retiring a product is that you may lose a customer. But poor support will make the customer leave eventually anyway. Customers who demand continued support for these connectors may not be customers we want to keep.
The product team that creates a product may not be the ones who can make a rational decision to retire a product. Let the numbers decide. Absent rational arguments to the contrary, a connector or any product whose cost exceeds its revenue should be gently but publicly destroyed.