Since time immemorial, gadgets have worked in a certain way.

You should let one go. It isn't perfect but it's good. There are no perfect gadgets. Market research is one of the things you do. Who is buying? You know what they like and what they don't. You work on refining. You fix things.

Next year, you will release a better version of that device. The device is the next-gen device. This device is called an upgrade. Customers are told to recycle Device 1.0 and replace it with device 2.0. Some of them are able to. The techies calculate the pros and cons ofUpgrading.

This is an overestimation of how consumer tech works. Many of us in the gadget space assume that products will improve as the years go on, and that's what I'm trying to show. Next-gen gadgets are better than the old ones.

Technology doesn't work that way anymore. It is time for all of us to stop acting like this.

It made sense for new categories of products to inquire into what customers wanted. The smart home space in the mid-2010s was not clear how people would use it, and as the market learned more, the software and speakers and such were refined to better suit those uses. The louder the homes got, the more useful they became.

Many popular gadgets are out of that space. These markets have established players and products that work very well. That makes an upgrade difficult.

Look at this year's laptop market to see how it's going. Only a small number of laptop releases were better than the previous ones. Some gaming rigs saw a significant jump in graphics quality from both hardware and software improvements.

Most of the next-gen devices I reviewed were not an upgrade from previous generations. Some of them were upgraded and some of them were cut. They were not the same all the time.

There were some that were vastly different in both design and function. For example, take Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 The device has been a standard convertible since the beginning of the year. Dell decided to use a Surface Pro-esque form factor instead of the previous design. While still marketed as the XPS 13 2-in-1 and replacing the old one on Dell's store, this year's 2-in-1 is essentially a Windows tablets with a magnetic keyboard case. It is difficult to think of that form factor as an upgrade from the previous one. It is ideal for different uses and it is targeting a different customer. It's not the same.

There are a lot of next-gen laptop models that didn't see a lot of design updates, but still targeted a new customer. It has to do with the choices Intel made. For much of the past few decades, Intel has been the world's largest Semiconductor manufacturer. The last few years have seen the emergence of threatening, core-crammed competitors.

Intel used to be able to makeIncremental performance bumps each year. The company made big strides in raw power this year, and its chips were more powerful than Apple's Arm chips. The 11th Gen series was more power-hungry than the 12th Gen series and the battery life of many Intel-powered laptops suffered as a result.

We had a full year of Windows laptops that were more powerful than their predecessors but didn't last as long. You can find a review of a next-gen laptop that I wrote this year. I didn't like the performance and didn't think the battery life was good. The parts of them that had improved were not upgraded. Power was a priority for some users and battery life wasn't. Even if there was overlap, they were only targeting shoppers who had previously owned those devices.

This isn't exclusive to laptops. Take a look at the phone. There is a new camera sensor, but the phone is the same as the previous one. Several people have chosen to buy the 13 instead of the new iPhone because they think it is better value for their money.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 open on a table displaying a purple ribbon desktop background.
The Acer Chromebook Spin 714 was a markedly different device from the Spin 713, mainly because of its battery life.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

I don't mean to argue against next-gen gadgets or to say that they should go away. It is clear that they serve an important purpose. What are they if they aren't upgraded? They're sequels, hear me out.

For decades, entertainment has been doing this differently. When a sequel is released, we don't think it will be better than the first one. It is also true of remakes. The 2004 Nicole Kidman version of The Stepford Wives is a different movie with a different tone and target audience than the 1975 Katharine Ross version. Sometimes a sequel is worse than the first one, but that is not a sign that the studio is doomed or that the movie is bad.

There are many differences between consumer technology and Hollywood. There are elements of movies that do date them as time goes on, but they can't break and aren't degrading. It is necessary to replace gadgets in a way that movies don't.

Part of the entertainment business model could be an alternative way to think about consumer technology. Cars are an example of a tech product that is already widely seen this way.

Some categories are better than others.

Even if a 12th Gen model is on shelves, I can easily replace my XPS 13 with another 10th Gen model. When they have something new to share, chipmakers update their generations. Companies don't replace their gadgets with new ones, but sell them side by side with clear descriptions of who they are and aren't for. Reviewers don't compare new units to their predecessors and look at their own merits.

I don't think this world is possible. Consumers who love shiny new toys and companies who have a profit incentive to keep us buying new things are some of the topics we are discussing. It is a world I would feel good about.