After spending last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), this is what I took away from the experience.
It is less expensive than ever to introduce a new product. It is potentially less time consuming to develop a new product than ever. Almost no new products are just a product. They are a combination of software, hardware and traditional components-like housings or lights or packaging or things that are not at the forefront of electronics.
Many product developers are in deep pursuit of the “best” product in the market and as such, continue to tweak and tweak and tweak. Being best at what you do is incredibly important, however, being best will be defined by the market acceptance, not the developer. Combine the best with the calendar and you get to a point where the development time to create the best will continue to push off the introduction of the product, thereby opening the door to others all the while.
Make an error in judgment in packaging or product shape or app interface and the competitors will forge forward. Be too underfunded (whether crowd funded, venture capital or personal funds) to actually do a good job on every step and sure enough, there are competitors doing it differently and perhaps better.
More pictures are taken today than ever before. Yet, Kodak and Polaroid no longer exist in the photo marketplace. Why? I would say, because they could not adjust to the evolution necessary to stay relevant in the smartphone era.
Smartphones (and tablets) are revolutionizing the way we will do almost everything. They are the centerpiece of the future of technology as we know it. Control your TV, your stereo, your lights, your fitness regimen, you name it and there is a sensor device for it and a connected app to pay attention to it or control it.
Who will win and who will lose in this quest for market share of all these sensors and apps? I don’t know, but, I do know that way too many business startups are under the impression that having the best product is all that it takes. Those of us who have been on the merry-go-round awhile, know that it is the foresightful, the team with the best players, the team with the “whole package” from design on all levels, to marketing on all levels, to sales effort on all levels, to execution on all levels, the team appropriately funded for all these activities. Those will be the winners, whether they have the “best” product or not.
It’s always been that way, of course. The difference now is how easy it is to get early revenues (or VC) and not realize that you don’t have the “whole package”. That may take only a few months or only a couple of years. In the 20th Century Kodak and Polaroid sustained for decades. Now that peak may only be months or less, and the decline for many will be very painful. The marketplace favors the fully prepared.