After several years of testing prototypes and forming partnerships to source artwork, the collaboration led to the launch of Frame TV in 2017, a Samsung television that resembled a picture frame. It used motion sensors to show art when people were around and turned off when no one was around. The television has become a bestseller.
Mr Béhar, founder of Fuseproject, an industrial design company, said he understands Amazon’s approach as a retail company to quickly test ideas – for example when it measures how customers react to different prices in its stores. But “with hardware, people are left with things that are useless or that no longer work,” he said. “In the world we live in today, with global warming, plastic and waste, I think that one should be very careful.”
Don Norman, who founded the Design Lab at the University of California at San Diego and wrote the book The Design of Everyday Things, said that over the course of his career he has seen several other companies taking similar approaches to Amazon.
When Mr. Norman worked with Apple as a User Experience Architect in the 1990s, the company was working with Sony on a product. He said Apple planned to do years of market research and prototype testing before shipping.
“Sony laughed at us and said, ‘What a stupid way of doing things. We just build a product and we sell it. We get the feedback and we kill it and make a better one. It’s much more efficient and faster than your method, ‘”said Mr Norman.
This spontaneous development approach is unpopular, he said, as most companies recognize that customers get angry when devices are killed quickly. “There is a certain logic to it, but also a complete disrespect for what it could mean for your customers, the environment or the world,” said Norman.
Kyle Wiens, the executive director of iFixit, a company that sells parts for device repair, said there are better ways than Amazon to discontinue products. When Pebble, a smartwatch maker, shut down in 2016, the company said the software would continue to work. People continued to enjoy the product years after the company’s death.