Principles for managing technological product obsolescence

Rahul Rai, Janis Terpenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Products evolve to accommodate competitive market pressures, rapid rates of technology change, and constant improvements in performance and functionality. While adding functionality and value, the fast moving technologies also make products obsolete quickly. One of the primary reasons for product obsolescence is technological obsolescence which results when consumers are attracted to functions in newer models of products that are more technologically advanced. One way to deal with problem is "piggybacking," a strategy that enables renewed functionality of a technologically obsolete product through the integration or add-on of a secondary device or component. Not to be confused with upgrading strategies, piggybacking requires a device that fits adjacent to, upon, or within the existing product architecture. Piggybacking is an attractive strategy for consumer electronic products that are particularly prone to technological obsolescence as it offers a means to accommodate fast and slower changing technologies within a single product. Currently, piggyback products are realized with ad hoc methods that rely on the experience and intuition of the designer, often applied inconsistently and not well known by less experienced designers. In this paper, a set of formal principles is presented for guiding the design of piggyback products. These principles are derived from the results of an empirical study of 72 different products. As part of the study, various products are analyzed with a dissection tool with representative principles derived from the data. The utility of these principles is demonstrated via the conceptual design of a novel piggyback products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-889
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Components and Packaging Technologies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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