Dominant design is a technology management concept introduced by Utterback and Abernathy in 1975.
A dominant design in a product class is, by definition, the one that wins the allegiance of the marketplace, the one that competitors and innovators must adhere to if they hope to command significant market.
In order to find the dominant design, we need to define a boundary to look into. For example, if we want to find the dominant design for a car, we will look for features that are embodied within the car body.
While product classes have some form of design, not all has a dominant design. When a product class does not have a dominant design, we say that a dominant design for that product class had not emerged. In addition, the dominant design of a product class may not be one that is the most superior in terms of performance.
Effects of having a dominant design for a product class
With the emergence of a dominant design, we will see rapid advancement of the product class. Therefore, supplies for human resources and material for that product class tends to increase.
On one hand, it is easier for companies to hire and procure resources to develop the product class with a dominant design. On the other hand, consumers of such a product class can get more features per dollar spent.