Many people appear to be led into thinking that some new machines have disruptive technologies, is it true?
We see press releases all the time about the new, latest whizz-bang appliances mostly for washing machines then fridge freezers and after that cooker and built-in ovens with all the rest following on behind that will almost always claim that there’s something new, different and innovative about the new one.
What you need to keep in mind is, this information (such as it is) is designed to sell the gizmo to you ahead of others. What that effectively means is that this is more or less an advert of sorts, richer perhaps in content than many but, an advert nonetheless.
Once you get that you might better understand that there’s a very high probability that what you are being told might not be entirely true or could even just be a complete crock.
Trust us on this, a lot of it is total manure.
At length, we’ll explain why this is so.
There’s a huge amount of effort put into giving something a fancy name, trying to claim it as the brand’s own invention and exclusive to the brand when actually, it’s commonplace in many.
One we see used a lot is “inverter technology” banded about with washing machine, fridges and can be used on any appliance with a motor more or less.
All it means is that there is a speed control module and a DC motor. That’s all.
This is not a new invention, not a new technology and won’t change your life.
But there’s loads of example of this littered throughout the appliance industry and it comes down to this, it’s usually a bit of a sham to get you to buy that brand.
Back To The Basics
When we have this discussion here in the office, with the repairers and even with the public we will often go back to this fundamental question, what is the product meant to do?
Washing machine, it cleans laundry.
Fridge freezer cools and freezes stuff.
Tumble dryer dries stuff.
Cookers, ovens hobs, cook stuff.
Dishwashers, clean dishes.
You get the idea, these appliances are built to complete relatively simple tasks and have a limited scope on what they are designed to do. For example, nobody would expect that a dishwasher could clean clothes, a cooker could dry laundry and so forth.
All these appliances will carry out the tasks that they are designed to do, with varying levels of efficiency for sure but, at the core of it, they will all do it.
The other big variable is, how long that they will keep doing it for.
Once you realise this you might understand why it is common for us to tell people that, most of the things that matter, how well the machine perfumes and how well built it is along with how good the support is, are things you will not find in a sales brochure or materials trumpeting the arrival of the latest connected appliance or whatever.
Almost all brands will claim that they’re the best, they’re at the forefront of technological advance, their performance is wonderful, they’re more energy efficient and so on. But here’s the thing, they can’t all be the best, can they?
Now you might better understand what the basic premise of any appliance is and that there’s no new and disruptive technologies we can tell you that what we see is small, incremental changes to the appliances, not magical new solutions that will change people’s lives in unimaginable ways.
This because the core function of each remains unaltered through time.
The basic premise of a washing machine, a cooker, a fridge and so on have remained unchanged since the things first arrived many decades ago.
Sure they’re more efficient and yes, they’re better designed in some ways and yes, they are way cheaper in relative terms than they ever have been but essentially, they do the same thing and more often than not in more or less exactly the same way.
Many people might wonder why that is, why there’s not technological disruption as we have seen in the electronics industry and especially the technology sector and, we can tell you why.
The core function hasn’t altered.
You have billions upon billions of garments in the world that need to be cleaned using a modern washing machine if you wanted to radically alter the way clothing was made to accommodate a new wash technology it would take decades to do it if it were even possible.
Dishes and plates you eat off haven’t changed, they’re unlikely to do so.
Food will probably always be cooked the way we do it today, sure the heat source might alter or whatever but the basic premise will always be the same. Although we really fancy that microwave from Back To The Future that pops out a fresh pizza!
Food still needs store at optimal temperatures in a big box.
Yet again, you get the picture and perhaps might appreciate that unless there’s a change in many other areas that massive changes in appliances are extremely unlikely to happen and, where they are in terms of your actual daily use, you would be unlikely to notice many if any.
Energy & Technology
Where you see most of the claims being made will be centred around energy efficiency and increasingly the addition of some form of connectivity.
With energy claims this is manufacturers or brands often fudging the numbers, if you browse around the site you’ll find a number of articles with loads of information telling you what we say that but the bottom line with these claims is, don’t believe it.
Connectivity is the new nirvana it seems to add value into the sector, it’s a way to pump up the prices and in our opinion by adding stuff that you don’t need (for the basic tasks appliances serve) not the cost of it. Then there are the security issues around connected appliances and the issues surrounding ongoing support.
So far, there hasn’t been a good show on these fronts by most.
But if some form of remote control was so important, why have appliances not had infrared remote controls for years, some cooker hoods have but they are far from popular.
To invest money into these things, we’d advise against it. You’d be far better buying a better quality machine in our view.
What You Can’t See
That all sums up nicely the massive problem that the appliance industry has.
The bits that you should actually care about are the bits you can’t see.
How does a marketing or PR department sell something that people don’t see, often don’t care about and will never interact with?
All that to carry out a menial task that all too often people don’t really want to be doing!
Just how do you “sex” that up to sell it to people?
It is our opinion that what has happened is that manufacturers and brands haven’t a clue how to do that (we don’t either, for the record) and so have focussed on design, fancy interfaces, capacities and often false promises of saving loads of energy as, they can’t dream up anything else.
Meanwhile, the focus has shifted away from how well the machines are actually built and how well they really perform in the real world as that doesn’t really matter when you’re trying to flog the stuff.
Quality doesn’t really matter any more, so long as people can switch it on and off using their smartphone. Whoop-de-doo, what an advance in technology that will enhance people’s lives and alter society as we know it!
We’re kidding. It won’t make a jot of difference and as with many things we see in the appliance industry, it will likely prove a passing fad that will be dropped as soon as manufacturers wake up to the face that people don’t need it and, aren’t buying it in droves as they’re not so gullible as to buy into that.
And, people aren’t stupid enough to get locked into buying all their shopping through a single point or being tied to a single source for consumables. Or if people are daft enough to do that then they just need to accept they’ve made a mistake and live with it.
Again, it’s a way to extract more money for longer from you, not provide a better machine.
The actual working bits inside the machine, the mechanical parts that perform all the tasks and really matter that you can’t see, they’ve gotten worse and worse as the focus shifts on how to sell it to you.
We see people debating the pros and cons of a direct and indirect drive, heat pump versus normal tumble dryers, induction hobs versus standard when really, it’s the wrong thing to look at. The important thing is, is it well made, will it last, can I get it fixed when it breaks.
People just seem to us often to be swayed by the glitz of marketing over the things that really matter.
There have been some advances and some pretty radical stuff in the appliance industry but, it’s rare. Most of the changes that you will see are as we said, incremental and not monumental.
Washing machines in basic function have altered little since front loading machines were first seen in the 1950s and, the task they carry out has changed little in that time.
Ovens, cookers and hobs also haven’t fundamentally altered either. We’ve seen the introduction of ceramic hobs and then induction ones but the actual task they perform remains unchanged.
Tumble dryers yet again, the task is unaltered but we have seen heat pump introduced in a bid to make tumble dryers more environmentally friendly, the jury’s out on that claim.
Dishwashers are more or less unchanged, basket design better, innards made cheaper other than that, same old, same old.
Microwaves, nothing new here.
Cooker hoods, new designs and… mhm, that’s it really.
Washer dryers, still rubbish three decades or more later. No change.
Fridges, freezers and fridge freezers, largely no change yet other than adding gizmos and making more space inside along with cost reductions.
Although on the refrigeration, front change might well happen, we may actually see a disruptive new cooling method that uses a lot less energy but it’ll be super expensive to start with. How far from that we are, we don’t know.
So big technological changes, no.
These are primarily mechanical devices in nature and are unlikely to alter all that much for the foreseeable future.
They don’t need to upgrade all the time (apart from connected appliances), they don’t need new programs added, you can’t add new features as they’re mechanical and so on.
Therefore the advances tend to be mostly skin deep for the most part, a new look, a new brand or how they’re sold to you.
Real, measurable and actual technological change, no.