Osborne Effect


The Osborne Effect originates from the business world, specifically about technology and product marketing. It refers to the negative impact on sales and demand of a currently available product after a company prematurely announces its future, often superior, version. The term is named after the Osborne Computer Corporation, which experienced such a situation in the early 1980s.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Osborne Effect” can be written as: “Oz-born Eh-fekt”.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Osborne Effect is a social phenomenon in business, referring to the unintended consequences of a company pre-announcing a future product, which can lead to a drastic decline in the sales of its current products.
  2. The concept was named after Osborne Computer Corporation, which experienced tremendous losses and eventually went bankrupt after pre-announcing their new system without having it ready for market yet. This led to customers either canceling or deferring present orders causing a severe cash flow problem.
  3. Avoidance of the Osborne Effect is crucial for businesses. This means managing product transitions carefully, ensuring new product availability before announcement or providing enough benefits to keep consumers interested in current products until the new ones are available.


The Osborne Effect is an important term in technology as it refers to a critical business phenomenon where a company experiences significant sales decline due to the pre-announcement of future products.

It got its name from the Osborne Computer Corporation, which made an early business mistake by prematurely announcing future products, causing customers to postpone their current purchasing plans in anticipation of the new release.

This led to decreased sales of their existing product lineup, which, alongside other factors, eventually led to the company’s bankruptcy. This term is a cautionary tale for technology companies about the potential financial risks of revealing too much information about future products too soon.


The Osborne Effect is a social phenomenon related to the marketing and sales of technology products, named after the Osborne Computer Corporation which experienced a dramatic sales drop in the early 1980s. This term is used to signify the negative repercussions that can occur when a company prematurely announces a future product, resulting in a steep decline in sales of the current product.
The anticipation of the new product can cause customers to halt or delay purchases of the current product, adversely affecting the company’s revenue and cash flow. The Osborne Effect serves as a cautionary tale for businesses in sectors that experience rapid product development cycles, where new versions of products are frequently released. It emphasizes the significance of timing and strategy in announcing future products so that the present sales are not jeopardized.

Companies can use it as a guide to handle product announcements, ensuring that the marketing of future offerings does not negatively impact the demand and sales of the current product lineup.


The Osborne Effect is a term related to business and technology marketing that refers to the unintentional consequence of a company prematurely announcing a future product, causing customers to stop buying the current product. Here are three real-world examples:

1. The Original Osborne Computer Corporation: The term Osborne Effect actually originated from this company. When the company announced its breakthrough portable computer, the Osborne Executive, too early, sales for the existing model, the Osborne 1, plummeted. Customers started waiting for the newer model, causing the company a severe cash flow problem and leading to its bankruptcy.

2. Apple’s iPhone 4S: Apple experienced a drop in sales when rumors of the iPhone 4S started circulating while the iPhone 4 was still new in the market. Many customers put off buying the iPhone 4, hoping the new model would be released soon.

3. Microsoft’s Windows Vista: Microsoft announced its new operating system, Windows Vista, much earlier than its launch. This led to customers postponing their purchases and upgrades of Windows XP, leading to decreased sales.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is the Osborne Effect?

A: Named after Osborne Computer Corp, the Osborne Effect refers to the unintentional business phenomenon of hurting sales by pre-announcing a new product too far ahead of its availability which results in customers canceling or deferring orders for the current product.

Q: What is the origin of the Osborne Effect?

A: The term originated from the mistake made by Osborne Computers when they announced their new computer model months before it was ready for sale. This led to a significant decline in sales of their current model as customers chose to wait for the new model.

Q: Does the Osborne Effect apply only to the technology industry?

A: While the Osborne Effect originated in the tech industry, its principles can be applied to any business sector. Anytime a company pre-announces a new product or service without having it readily available, they may inadvertently harm sales of their current products or services.

Q: Why is it called the Osborne Effect?

A: It’s named after the Osborne Computer Corporation. They suffered severe financial difficulties and eventually went bankrupt due to failing sales after pre-announcing a new product.

Q: How can the Osborne Effect be avoided?

A: Companies can avoid the Osborne Effect by properly timing their product announcements. Instead of announcing a new product before it’s ready, they should wait until the product is available, or close to being available, to maintain the sales momentum of their current products.

Q: Can the Osborne Effect have long-term implications?

A: Yes, the Osborne Effect can have long-term implications for companies. If a company consistently announces products too early, it may lose credibility with its customers and damage its reputation, resulting in lower sales in the future.

Q: What’s an example of the Osborne Effect in today’s tech industry?

A: An example could be a smartphone company announcing a new model while the previous one still sells well. This could lead consumers to postpone their purchase, expecting the newer model, which could harm the sales of the current model.

Q: Is there any way to benefit from the Osborne Effect instead of it hurting the business?

A: While typically deemed as harmful, some believe that announcing a new product can create buzz and anticipation, potentially leading to a rush of sales when it is available. However, such a strategy requires careful management to prevent damaging existing product sales.

Related Tech Terms

  • Product Announcement
  • Market Cannibalization
  • Obsolete Technology
  • Preannouncing
  • Revenue Decline

Sources for More Information


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