As an example, the Canon 77D which I have supports timelapse mode in which the camera takes a series of shots at a predefined interval of time. However the cheaper Canon 200D doesn't have such a mode, even though the hardware is very similar and there's no reason why it couldn't support it as well.

What's the proper word to use for this kind of pricing strategy?

  • I think you may want to clarify your example to fit in line with the question better. The example doesn't make a lot of sense as written, as the intentional reduction in speed is not done to make them less appealing. It is done to allow for manufacturing defects while keeping the partially defective chips operating in a stable range. It reduces waste and increases reliability of the components. This process is called binning and is presumably not what you intended this question to be about.
    – JMac
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 17:05
  • @JMac fixed with a better example Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 17:10
  • 1
    This is a much different example, and one about merchandise that offers a feature that does not exist in cheaper models. A bit like saying a tablet that offers blue tooth connection (I know they all do nowadays but it's the best I can come up with) and one that doesn't. Hardware and features are not the same. Are they? Deleting my answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 17:22
  • @Mari-LouA the 77D and the 200D have the exact same microchip, so they could run the exact same software if Canon wanted them to. They do have different ports and a different shutter mechanism, but those are hardware rather than software features. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 17:38
  • Another example could be floppies since I think you could buy single-sided floppies cheaper than double-sided, but turn them double-sided simply by punching a hole that enabled writes on the other side, thereby doubling their capacity. There's more info here.
    – JoL
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 1:49

8 Answers 8


The practice is often called crippling (which has the usual meaning of the word: "to deprive of capability for service or of strength, efficiency, or wholeness" Webster.

The practice is also commonly used for trial versions of software. Features and capabilities are curtailed until you buy it. Then the full features are enabled.

For hardware, it can be less expensive to use essentially the same design than to develop a new version, especially if the parts cost is low and they can manufacture in greater volume. They degrade the performance, otherwise there would be no reason to buy the expensive version.

  • 2
    Also known as "gimping."
    – ArrowCase
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 13:57
  • 2
    It's worth noting that sometimes companies do this due to inherent issues with the manufacturing process. For example, for a long time, all Intel i7 chips started life as Xeon chips. Chips that failed the reliability and stability tests for Xeon chips were then tested for i7 stability, with certain memory registers and cores disabled physically, because the manufacturing process is so precise that certain quantum effects can affect the final product.
    – SGR
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 10:52
  • Is “nerfing” another synonym for this? Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 15:33

In the context you use as an example, it's called "binning"

There's no such thing as "the exact same chip" once you move to the extreme boundary of production capability. As the manufacturing process is stretched to its limit, even the smallest variations become relevant. Thus, every chip has relevant variations, and a post-production measurement tells the manufacturer how good the product actually is.

Now it turns out that separating the resulting chips in two bins "working" and "defect" is economically unsound. Adding a third bin "works, but with reduced performance" turns out to be an economical option, and for high-volume products even more bins are sensible.

  • 5
    -1 However, it's not intentional down-grading; it's not a business strategy. Certainly not to improve market exposure.
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 12:09
  • 8
    I agree with @Kris. The OP's context is not binning. "Binning" is the perfectly logical and reasonable practice of getting value out of a product that isn't perfect. "Crippling", as described in the question, is the questionably-ethical practice of taking a good product and deliberately preventing it from working to full spec.
    – Auspex
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 12:46
  • 4
    @Auspex Except that whilst the answer to the question title is definitely "crippling", the OP's example in the question body is a textbook case of "binning". So both may be valid answers, because the OP doesn't seem to know enough about the situation.
    – Graham
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 13:24
  • 2
    but in practice binning also cripples, lower binned chips have the features turned off (using internal fuses or firmware) to avoid instability and match the lower bin's specs. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 13:38
  • 4
    -1; the question specifically asked for a word to describe intentionally reducing the performance of a product in order to reduce its appeal relative to a higher-priced model. You've described a different business process here and given the name for that instead. Even if the OP's example is factually flawed and no graphics card manufacturers ever intentionally cripple their boards (which may or may not be true; I don't have enough knowledge of the industry to know), that doesn't invalidate the terminology question, and this is still not an answer to the question that was asked.
    – Mark Amery
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:05

Depending on Canon's business decisions, this might be an example of price discrimination.

Price discrimination is a pricing strategy that charges customers different prices for the same product or service. (Source: Investopedia.)

Customers in different markets are willing to pay different amounts for a particular product. If Canon were to have one fixed price for their camera, they would be leaving money on the table, so to speak. It is possible that Canon determined that the timelapse mode was enough to differentiate two market segments.

(But don't forget that software isn't free to produce. It is conceivable that the higher price camera sells at a lower volume, and the additional revenue merely covers the development of those extra software features.)


meta: inspiration, fixer1234

Product Crippling (src: Ethics of Design)

… the fiscal resources available to consumers vary, therefore companies take the approach to offer a lower price product, with less features making the product available to more consumers while also offering a higher priced product with more features to the top end consumers (Timmer, 2012).
Several notable examples of this:
IMB Laser Printer
In 1990 IMB launched their LaserPrinter E, an economy version of their popular LaserPrinter. (Deneckere and McAfee, 1996, p.153) These two products were found to be virtually identical, except the economy version was programmed to print slower:

This was not received well by the public (Timmer, 2012).

Intel 486SX and 486DX processor

Canon Powershot

Sennheiser HD 555 and Sennheiser HD 595

See also,
"a distinctive (and derogatory) vocabulary"
(John Timmer, "Not wasteful, but unethical: why we hate crippled products"Ars Technica):

"crippleware," "product sabotage," "anti-features," "defective by design," and "damaged goods."

  • 3
    If you're just adding references, consider editing them into the original answer - in this case, fixer1234's.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 9:29
  • @Lawrence Good point. But no, read my answer from after the "inspiration".
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 9:30
  • 2
    I think your intent would be clearer if you include more of the second quote, with the various terms in bold (rather than just quoting the terms without context).
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 17:34
  • 1
    I think it is wrong to describe this as unethical. Customers want to have a choice of models with different features/performance vs price. The easiest way for manufacturers to meet this demand is to use the same core hardware to implement different feature sets in different models. This is a win-win situation for customer and manufacturer. It would be unreasonable (morally and economically) to demand they do each model as a new ground-up design. (So I disagree with "crippling" as the answer, because of the negative connotations, but I haven't yet come up with a better one!)
    – user184130
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 20:32
  • @1006a I already provided a link to the source.
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 5:52

It is called product crippling and is a form of price discrimination.

Another similar example is Bausch and Lomb a couple decades ago sold the exact same contact lenses (same line, process, etc.) and had one version they sold for a cheap unit price as "dailies" and another for an expensive price as "extended wear" (could sleep with it, wear for 30 days). They didn't even physically cripple the product. But they gave user instructions with the dailies not to reuse them or sleep in them (wouldn't you follow directions like that to protect your eyes?) This resulted in a famous FTC case where B&L paid a fine for price discrimination.

  • Oh, I remember those lenses! I deliberately disobeyed those instructions and understood that the contact lenses worked perfectly well. I did use to take them out before going to sleep though. And I would buy new pair after 10 days or so.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 12:16
  • Pity it's exactly the same answer, but the case described is perfect.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 12:17

Badge Engineering

From Wikipedia:

Badge engineering, sometimes called rebadging, is the practice of applying a different badge or trademark (brand, logo or manufacturer's name/make/marque) to an existing product (e.g., an automobile) and subsequently marketing the variant as a distinct product. Due to the high cost of designing and engineering a new model or establishing a brand (which may take many years to gain acceptance), economies of scale make it less expensive to rebadge a product once or multiple times than to create different models.

  • 3
    Welcome to EL&U. Sorry about the down votes, but it is probably because some users did not find your answer helpful: it does not seem to address the right question, which is about cheaper product lines of the same brand. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 15:31

'Binning' and 'crippling' are all excellent answers. Their purpose is part of planned obsolescence Wikipedia page

In this case, the inferior product is released in full knowledge that the superior, uncrippled product can be released at any time.


A good option would be: downgrade (Oxford Learner's Dictionary)

to move somebody/something down to a lower rank or level

  • That would be a good name for the lower priced model, but not for the practice itself. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 7:03
  • @JonathanReez The reference is to the verb, not the noun.
    – Kris
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 9:32

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