No product lives forever. There are always changes, an evolution, or a passing of the torch as a product fades away. Every product eventually reaches the decline/harvest stage whereby the product is eliminated and resources are reallocated to new technologies.
Such is the case for the original Segway PT (personal transport), which was a pop culture icon, but never really made it to a strong commercial or consumer product. The Segway two-wheeled PT debuted in 2001 and it became a staple in security and law enforcement (remember the movie Paul Blatt: Mall Cop?), but never really caught on for personal use beyond tourists and sight-seeing. The vehicles looked simple, but tended to be hard to use as riders shifted balance. Indeed, in 2003, then President George W. Bush took a tumble off the vehicle while riding!
Segway has expanded its product line into other transportation vehicles including electric scooters. All-in-all, Segway sold 140,000 PTs since its launch. However, the vehicles were less than 1.5% of the company’s revenue last year. China-based Ninebot acquired Segway in 2015 and will halt production of the Segway PT this July 2020.
R.I.P. Segway PT. You were an icon.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
- Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
- Next, discuss the life cycle of the Segway PT.
- Show videos of Segway:
Unveiling of Segway: https://youtu.be/Tppv2NgZOQU
Paul Blart – Mall Cop: https://youtu.be/dfzmYp60I7w
- Show the Segway web site: https://www.segway.com/
- Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle or be reinvented for a new life.
Source: Associated Press; CNN News; New York Times; other sources