I have some interesting discussion on stage-gate process here in Chicago and the current paradigm of product design and development. A lot of people mixed product development process with innovation process. It is fundamentally two different things.
It is not easy to break through the clutter of the hundreds of competing products out there and some wonder if differentiation is even possible. That's the reason why some of the greatest brands of the world are coming to us for innovation. Innovation is the only way to break out of the commodity cycle.
It's day 2 at the deign research conference in Chicago. Steven Herbst of Motorola drove in interesting point home with a video from a focus group. You have to be careful when putting folks in a "lab environment"—essentially asking them for their opinions. Watch the video and make your own conclusions.
At some level, it's makes sense that technological advances and the open-source movement have made tinkering with and improving on our favorite products easier. Think of Google Maps mash-ups, Firefox add-ons, videogame hacks, etc.
The most recent Harvard Business Review features the above article by Philip Kotler et al on the eternal conflict between sales and marketing, and how it can be resolved. Rather than rehashing the article, which is well worth reading in full, I wanted to lay out my perspective on this issue.