commercially viable
Posted: 23 August 2007 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2007-04-28

They found that Product X was not commercial.
They found that Product X was not commercially viable.

Is the latter just jargon or cliche or does it add something?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 August 2007 08:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  710
Joined  2007-02-07
venomousbede - 23 August 2007 06:48 AM

They found that Product X was not commercial.
They found that Product X was not commercially viable.

Is the latter just jargon or cliche or does it add something?

For me, the two sentences could mean different things. “Not commercial” could mean that it can’t be sold for any number of reasons (maybe it’s illegal, for example). “Not commercially viable” means selling it doesn’t make sense.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 August 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-01-03

To me, “not commercial” means the product or service is not being offered for sale on the open market.

“Not commercially viable” means that a market does not exist for the product.

Public television is not commercial, but its programming would probably be commercially viable if it became a for-profit venture.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 August 2007 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2836
Joined  2007-01-31

Neither the AHD nor OED even list a sense for “commercial” that approximates the meaning of “commercially viable”.  MWO gives one that is somewhat similar ("suitable, adequate, or prepared for commerce") but there are so many others that using “commercial” standing alone as a predicate adjective would be quite ambiguous unless something else in the context suggested which meaning was meant.  The idea that the second sentence is just a wordier way of saying what the first one says strikes me as quite odd.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 August 2007 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2017
Joined  2007-02-19

What Dr. T said.

Only the second of those two sentences makes sense.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 August 2007 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2007-04-28

So the distinction could be “marketable” vs “profitable”?
We found that Product X was not a commercial proposition
We found that Product X was not a viable commercial proposition, or
We found that Product X was not a commercially viable proposition

A geography teacher at school used to excise the “viable” in our essays which prompted this post. It still smacks of jargon to me though I agree with what you said. Viable sounds like a popular-economics buzzword uninformed schoolkids use when trying to impress (raises hand!). Best to avoid the word entirely, perhaps.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 August 2007 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  311
Joined  2007-02-17

In the first sentence, in addition to “marketable”, “commercial” could mean:
used in commerce
suitable for sale
available in mass quantity
of average/inferior quality
produced to a low standard or too quickly
appealing to a large market
and probable several others.
It’s entirely possible for something to be commercial yet not commercially viable, e.g.  diamond-encrusted, solid-gold phones might appeal to a large market, but could not be produced at a price point that would sell enough of them to make it worthwhile.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 August 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1221
Joined  2007-04-28

Yes, this could be why I have never had much money. The Joy of Lex never did except Bill Bryson ;)

Profile