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Definition

vaporware

Contributor(s): Pradit Pinyopasakul

Vaporware is software or hardware that is announced publicly and actively promoted by a vendor even though it does not yet exist. To vaporize as a verb means to speak boastfully or be "full of hot air."

A vaporware announcement may simply be a marketing strategy to gauge customer interest in a particular product -- or the product may take so long to develop that it becomes more cost-effective to drop it quietly before completion. 

Most computer companies have from time to time delivered vaporware, either unintentionally or by calculation. Both IBM and Microsoft have been accused by the U.S. Justice Department of prematurely announcing vaporware products that were years away from completion in attempt to command market share and kill off any potential competition.

Concerns about vaporware led the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA) to address the problems caused by vaporware in their principles of fair competition:

"Pre-announcements of specific products or features are, at times, very relevant to a broad range of industry players in terms of assisting them in determining technology trends. However, the intentional pre-announcement of products that do not yet exist can have the effect of freezing the market. When a product pre-announcement is knowingly false, it may harm competition and restrict the availability to the market of innovative products from other vendors."

VaporWare is also the name of a company that makes games and other products for Amiga users.

See also: scareware, FUD, Business Software Alliancebuzz marketing, Glossary: software development

 

Continue reading about vaporware:

SIIA released guidelines to assist government officials in their reviews of competition in the software industry.

Barry Bayus, Sanjay Jain, and Ambar Rao published Truth or consequences: An analysis of vaporware and new product announcements.

This was last updated in April 2011

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