Every PC builder faces the same question when picking out new parts: Should I buy Product X or wait for Product Y? That's because there's always a faster graphics card around the corner, a more capacious solid state drive on the horizon, or a new CPU architecture on the verge of being announced. No matter how long you play the waiting game, it's impossible to stay ahead of the curve for any real length of time. The same is true for consumer electronics, though would you have guessed that three months is the average lifecycle of a mobile device?
According to Digitimes and the sources from the upstream supply chain it spoke with, gadgets like tablets, smartphones, and notebooks enjoy a mere three months on the market before something better comes along. The life expectancy of mobile devices used to be twice as long, but "fierce competition" means consumers are almost constantly being inundated with newer products.
This can be problematic for vendors who risk getting stuck with old inventory that they just bought. To prevent that from happening, vendors have turned to short-term orders to the upstream suppliers rather than inking long-term contracts like they used to.
The way products are sold is changing, too. For example, within the last few months, every major wireless carrier in the U.S. has implemented a frequent upgrade program that allows customers to trade-up their smartphone for a newer model at least once a year.
It will be interesting to see what other trends emerge as a result of this.