|Do you know where your variables are?|
I've spent time comparing the two industries myself (with virtually no concept of history, mind you, so I'm probably very wrong).
Original cycles in the car industry looked very much the same, with the major differences being cost and size. Previously, I had never considered size as a major factor, but now that I think of it, the possibility occurs to me that people are using a somewhat outmoded criteria (how big something is compared to them) to determine how threatened they should feel by it. Cars are bigger than us; computers less so.
Probably the easiest way to figure out if this is even remotely valid would be to take a look at the differences between people's attitudes toward laptops and desktops, since there's a size difference. Still, they're both smaller than a person -- perhaps the difference in attitudes between mainframes and desktops?
Bizarre archaic size concepts aside, I've also been thinking about stupid customers. (And this is something I think anybody who's ever worked at any business has a fair chunk of experience with.) Stupid Customer = Instant Gratification + Lack of Understanding. When a stupid customer makes a request and is provided whatever they request, other customers usually get the option of having it too -- and if the only customers who feel strongly on the issue are all|mostly stupid, then you're going to have an industry standard stupid option. If that stupid option is cheaper and enough people feel vehement about it, they cause the rest of the customers to get screwed because companies start taking the stupid option.
I have been told (and I'm not certain it's apocryphal) that corrective lenses were once used to correct your vision, that you got a set of them that the doctor had and went home. You wore the first set for a few weeks, then moved to the next strongest, etc., and eventually you didn't need them and brought them back to the doctor. The problem with that for an industry? You sell a few sets per doctor and that's it.
And it can just be envisioned that a stupid customer eventually just ignored the doctor's advice, wore the strongest ones, and kept them permanently, at a great charge. Doctors noticed they could sell them, companies noticed doctors were selling -- next thing you know, Pearle Vision centers.
Again -- I don't know if this is apocrypha, but assuming for the moment it's true, it could be described as an economic force punishing everyone else for the stupidity of small groups.
Roughly the same concept would apply in software. If the person taking feature requests is unwilling to explain to the customer why a stupid request is stupid, or the customer is uneducated and well-rewarded for their stupidity, then you're going to end up with stupid requests, you're going to end up with stupid software, and you're going to end up with (worst case scenario) a stupid industry standard.
Standard disclaimer applies: I don't have the faintest clue what I'm talking about, this is all conjecture, IANAL, etc., void in Utah.