All things must pass…fads and fashions explained visually

Been traveling the last few weeks, and forgot to post this fantastic infographic.

The WashingtonPost had a great online article about how electronic items track on their way from gee-wiz to junk. The infographic shows clearly how fads start, stall, decay and die! Added bonus is the story of Moore’s law at work in terms of falling prices of items as volume ramps up.

Link to WaPo article.

As proof, look at the sales of  “standard cellphones” which start off as being expensive and exclusive, and with the reduction in prices, slowly gain volume until the late 90s, when suddenly the market explodes and the sales volumes grow 10x in the next 10 years, while prices continue to come down. Eventually gravity catches up in 2007, and the market starts climbing down from it’s peak, never to return. Corded phones didn’t have such an explosive rise, and didn’t have such an explosive fall either.

Today’s hottest category is smartphones, but the smart money is already able to see that this will eventually boil over as well. What I found interesting was that there was no other *new*category of devices that can displace them in the near future- this means that the  smartphone category may not fall off a cliff, but may plateau.

10-year-rule The other sexy take-away for me was that all this talk of overnight innovation and success is not borne out by data. Very clearly, all these categories existed (see other charts on the link) for at least 10 years before they exploded. There was an interesting WSJ editorial a couple of weeks ago about how Steve Jobs’ genius was not his marketing savvy or finicky product design, which were both great attributes, but his slowness to respond to the market. The ipod entered the MP3 player market when the market was already mature. That meant that Apple did not have to create market, just transform it.


About Gaurav Rastogi
Gaurav Rastogi is a writer and a business-exec living in the San Francisco bay area. His other blog is a personal philosophy blog at

One Response to All things must pass…fads and fashions explained visually

  1. Jarod Wing says:

    Hey just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

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