New Wine in Old Bottles or New Bottles for New Wine? Product Language Approaches in Design‐Intensive Industries During Technological Turmoil
15 Pages Posted: 7 May 2018
Date Written: June 2018
It is widely acknowledged that technological innovation affects the development of product language. Some scholars argue that technological innovation leads companies to develop radically different product language to emphasize novelty; conversely, others note that technological innovation pushes companies to recall previous technology product language in order to increase acceptance of the new technology. This article analyzes the rationale that guides firms to choose these alternative approaches when confronting technological innovations of different magnitude and identifies which of them prevails in a design‐intensive industry. In particular, the study—through an analysis of 678 products in the Italian lighting industry—shows that light‐emitting diode (LED) technology (a discontinuous innovation) involved more product language changes than did compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) technology (a continuous innovation) and that a different use of product materials contributed to this higher number of product language changes. By discussing the reasons behind these findings, this paper extends and better qualifies the literature on the relationship between technological innovation and product design innovation.
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