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Bloatware afflicts the auto industry

I’m a sucker for observing behavior in non-software industries that’s analogous to perceived problems in the software industry. This is from a blog post on the 2008 Honda Accord:

The day an automaker redesigns a midsize family sedan and declares it to be, “Less roomy, less powerful and less luxurious!” is the day that I expect to read a Rolling Stone “Top 50 Albums Of All Time” story and find “Frampton Comes Alive!” in the top 10.

So it’s of little surprise that the redesigned 2008 Honda Accord is indeed roomier, more powerful and more luxurious. But I wonder – how much bigger can it get? Out of curiosity, I compared the size of the new Accord to that of the Toyota Avalon. Houston, we have a problem.

One of the most common complaints about software is that as applications get older, they keep getting bigger. It turns out, the same thing happens to cars. This must be why car models eventually get retired and new models take their place — nobody ever releases an updated model of a car that’s smaller, cheaper, and more economical to drive. New models get a new designation. Indeed, that seems to be what’s happening with Honda:

But if it gets any bigger or heavier on the next redesign, the Accord might as well be Honda’s Avalon, with the Civic taking up the midsize spot and the Fit being the “old Civic.”

I’m glad to see that this behavior on the part of businesses (and even open source projects) is really more a function of consumer psychology than it is of bad behavior in the software industry.

2 Comments

  1. I remember reading something about this 10 or 15 years ago about how the 90s Civic was the size of the 70s Accord, and I’m sure the pattern continues. As people get older they probably want bigger cars, and they have a soft spot for the models they’ve owned in the past. It’s probably a winning strategy.

  2. Thruxton Jackaroo

    January 22, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Between 1973 and 1974, Ford released the Mustang II. Essentially it was a glorified Pinto, it reduced size, mass, engine displacement and power levels compared to the previous model years.

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