How well do you know your competitors' products?

Perhaps this applies more to corp designers. While busy designing the next gen stuffs, how much time do you guys spend testing and analysing your competitors’ products? Performance, manufacturing, materials and ergonomic wise.

When we do it we rip em apart and figure out whats right/not right about them. Then ideally we make them better in our special way. We try and approach it in critical thinking way; analysing it positively and negatively from a fairly neutral position, trying to figure out what they were thinking while they did it.

What we usually find is that their decisions, much like ours, are limited by economic constraints, manufacturing constraints and realistic feature/benefit necessity. But if we find interesting shortcuts we file them away to apply to other problems later on,…

Its a good excercise for when the line manager/executive/director comes in with a wedding gift project. Passing the same gift along from one wedding to another in different wrapping. In other words they just like us to wrap our competitors successes in our own wrapping paper, slap a logo on it and offer it in a few different colors to hit that competative “sweet spot”. [sarcasm] do you think I have a high opinion of these projects? [/sarcasm]

most users today are very much aware of which product has been ripped off from an existing one and just been given a make over. unless there has been changes tht make a difference positive ofcourse, no matter however small it is, the product will never succeed!!!
you cant fool your end users!!!