Tag Archives: Google

Good Design Makes Technology Disappear

Good Design Makes Technology Disappear

The late Clayton Christensen wrote a little book called The Innovator’s Dilemma that many of you I’m sure have read. Many people think of it as a book about disruptive innovation, but it can be much more than that if you shift your perspective.

The Classic Disruptive Innovation Example

One of the case study examples is that of mini-mills disrupting the rolled steel producers in the steel industry by starting at the bottom of the food chain with the production of low margin re-bar and then moving upwards into higher margin steel products. This is seen as the blueprint for how you disrupt an industry. You go first where the incumbents are least likely to be concerned about new entrants – low margin products – a market that incumbents might actually be happy to lose, because their average margins will actually increase and wall street will potentially reward them in the short-term with higher stock prices.

But if you shift your perspective on this case study and apply it to emerging technology, something new emerges.

Learning and Adoption Require a Compelling Use Case BEFORE They Can Occur

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts while I work lately. Podcasts with leading scientists from around the world. One of the core themes that continuously emerges is that innovation is really hard and takes a long time. I was really struck by iRobot co-Founder Rodney Allen Brooks speaking about how they had a target of launching the Roomba at $200 and this meant that he had FIFTY CENTS per unit to spend on a piece of silicon to power their invention. He told the story of running around Taiwan looking for a chip that was cheap enough and was handicapped in ways that wouldn’t matter for their particular application – as ALL chips in that price range are going to have severe limitations. This is a great story for highlighting some of the unexpected challenges in turning an invention into an innovation.

Another interesting innovation case study – on the failure side – is that of Google Glass. The smart glasses arrived as an overhyped and underwhelming product and died on the vine in a very short period of time. One of the key reasons for their failure was the lack of a compelling use case, and another was that technology was too front and center – so much so that Google Glass seemed like a creepy invention.

“Making access to information just instant and intuitive. By doing that, technology fades into the background, and we’re more connected with the people and things around us.”

This quote is pulled directly from the video below about Google’s reboot of their smart glasses initiative:

Google’s Live Translation Glasses arrive this time without a product page, without a formal product name and promising much less.

One of the things that really struck me in this short video is that while it is super easy to anchor on the value of the translation piece – displaying Mandarin on screen from an English voice for example – they have several other powerful uses cases, including:

  • People who have single-sided deafness
  • People who don’t want to wear hearing aids, or for whom hearing aids don’t work
  • People who are fully deaf
  • People who are trying to learn a new language

Do One Thing Really Well and Build From There

Google’s Live Translation Glasses remind me of another pair of smart glasses launched a little while back in the glow of the Google Glass failure – Amazon’s Echo Frames.

Amazon’s Echo Frames build themselves around the compelling use case of hands-free searching and calling. They have speakers and a microphone, connect to your iOS or Android smartphone, and can even be fitted with prescription lenses.

Amazon Echo Frames

Don’t Strip the Gears on Your Innovation Machine

Our ability to imagine usually outpaces our ability to execute and it can be a challenge to rein in our imagination to match our ability to not just execute, but to do so profitably and at a pace that our customers can see their way to adopt it.

When we look at my Innovation is All About Value methodology, we can also see that companies fail less often at value creation, and more frequently at value access and value translation.

When your start small and build around a compelling use case it is easier to get the value translation right and it is easier to build the key value access components to support your value creation.

Timing matters…

Price matters…

Compelling use cases matter…

What’s yours?

Keeping the end in mind and the future in sight – is important – but it is more valuable to identify where to start and add value as you go.

Don’t strip the gears on your innovation machine and keep innovating!

Image credit: The Verge, Amazon

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Can You Be TOO Strategic?

Can You Be TOO Strategic?

GUEST POST from Howard Tiersky

While the lack of a clear strategy can create problems in any business, there is another end of that spectrum.

Having a strategy means having clarity on what you want to achieve and a plan on how to get there. These are good things, but it’s also possible to be too strategic—too focused on a single goal and plan.

When Being TOO Strategic is a Problem

1. You Have an Ineffective Plan

What if you have a plan for reaching your goal but it doesn’t work? You could be putting all your eggs in one basket.

In some cases, you may be able to determine very quickly if your strategy isn’t working. That’s one of the beauties of digital. For example, with ecommerce, you can try a new email subject line and within a few hours (or even minutes) you can see whether people are responding to it.

There are other strategies, however, that demonstrate their effectiveness over time. A program that is designed to build relationships to drive more long-term customer loyalty is an example of a strategy that you won’t be able to determine the success of overnight.

Regardless of whether your plan can be evaluated quickly, if you put all your eggs in one strategic basket, there’s always the possibility that you’re wrong about the method to achieve your goal.

2. You Set the Wrong Goal

There’s also the possibility that you have either the wrong goal or a goal that’s not optimal.

No matter what group of consumers you choose to target, things can change quickly; it may turn out that you haven’t chosen a good target at all.

For example, think about when COVID-19 first disrupted our world. Consumers’ needs and habits changed because of the pandemic, which caused many companies to adjust their goals because their original goals were no longer going to bring successful outcomes. If you stayed laser focused on the goal of increasing the number of shoppers coming to your store each day amidst the pandemic, you were a little too strategically disciplined.

Even in less extreme cases, there are still situations where leaders fail to see new trends and opportunities for growth.

Blockbuster VideoBlockbuster is a great example of a company that had the wrong goal in mind. They were so hyper focused on putting a video rental store in every neighborhood that they failed to see the potential opportunity in digital streaming services.

Netflix, on the other hand, did an excellent job seeing that opportunity and successfully transformed from the DVD rental by mail service to the popular digital streaming service consumers love today.

There’s always the risk that either you’re pursuing the wrong destination or the wrong means to get there. And what do you do then? You have the opportunity to say, “Maybe I shouldn’t be 100% strategic.”

Often, mistakes and variability promote evolution and growth in a company, so it’s important to determine what percentage of your business should be based on strategy and what percentage should be based on trying new and different things which may not align with the current official strategy.

3. Consider a Balanced Approach

Ideally, find a balance of mostly strategic activities, but carve out some time for non-strategic activity to allow employees to be creative and freely come up with new ideas that just might turn into something great.

An example of a company who does this well and has seen success come out of this strategy is Google. Google offers “20% time,” which allows each employee to spend 20% of their work time on independent projects they feel will benefit Google in the long run without having to justify it to anyone.

This freedom promotes innovation and creativity, making employees feel like their work and input really matters to the company. Many of Google’s widely known products have come out of this non-strategic time, such as Gmail and Google Maps.

Another area of business that often takes a balanced approach to strategy is Research and Development (R&D). R&D teams are typically made up of creative and original thinkers; they may be faced with problems that they’re fascinated by and are trying to solve. It’s not always clear how solving that problem is going to help the company right away, but some of the world’s greatest innovations have come out of R&D departments.

For example, at Bell Labs, the transistor was invented by people who were fascinated by the way materials could be used to control electricity. It wasn’t clear when they were doing that original research exactly how the product would be used; it was much later that the potential was realized for commercial applications such as the microchip

Another example is Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple. When the Apple ][ computer was at its height, it was the main focus of the company and where all the money was coming from. The long term success of the Apple ][ platform was the strategic focus of the company.

At the time, in order to politically sideline him, Jobs was assigned to work on a seemingly non-strategic project, which was the Apple Macintosh, originally intended as a product for the education market. As successful as the Apple ][ was, ultimately, the innovation that came from launching the Macintosh massively eclipsed the Apple ][ and is a key product line to this day. Thank goodness for a non-strategic project.

4. It Might Be Worth It to Pursue a “Moonshot Idea”

It can be beneficial to allow a certain amount of time to work on complete “moonshot ideas”—
ideas that are highly risky but could change the company or the industry as a whole if they’re successful.

While these grand ideas have only proven to be occasionally successful, the payoff can be so huge when they do succeed that they are worth pursuing.

The bottom line is that you want to be good at being strategic, but not get so caught up in being so strategic that you miss out on a great opportunity for growth and success in your company that may not align with your strategy.

Parting Gift

My Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, contains a blueprint for developing a successful strategy for your company as well as practices to aid in identifying new trends and opportunities to explore. You can download the first chapter for free here or purchase the book here.

Image credits: Pixabay and Unsplash

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AI Has Already Taken Over the World

AI Has Already Taken Over the World

I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to feel as if machines and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have already taken over the world.

Remember in primary school when everyone tried really hard to impress, or even just to be recognized by, a handful of cool kids?

It’s feeling more and more each day as if the cool kids on the block that we’re most desperate to impress are algorithms and artificial intelligence.

We’re all desperate to get our web pages preferred over others by the algorithms of Google and Bing and are willing to spend real money on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase our chances of ranking higher.

Everyone seems super keen to get their social media posts surfaced by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok, and even LinkedIn.

In today’s “everything is eCommerce” world, how your business ranks on Google and Bing increasingly can determine whether you’re in business or out of business.

Algorithms Have Become the New Cool Kids on the Block

According to the “Agencies SEO Services Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030” report from The Business Research Company:

“The global agencies seo services market is expected to grow from $37.84 billion in 2020 to $40.92 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1%. The market is expected to reach $83.7 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 19.6%.”

Think about that for a bit…

Companies and individuals are forecast to spend $40 Billion trying to impress the alogrithms and artificial intelligence applications of companies like Google and Microsoft in order to get their web sites and web pages featured higher in the search engine rankings.

The same can be true for companies and individuals trying to make a living selling on Amazon, Walmart.com and eBay. The algorithms of these companies determine which sellers get preferred placement and as a result can determine which individuals and companies profit and which will march down a path toward bankruptcy.

And then there is another whole industry and gamesmanship surrounding the world of social media marketing.

According to BEROE the size of the social media marketing market is in excess of $102 Billion.

These are huge numbers that, at least for me, demonstrate that the day that machines and AI take over the world is no longer out there in the future, but is already here.

Machines have become the gatekeepers between you and your customers.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

(insert maniacal laugh here)

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At What Point Does Smart Become Stupid?

At What Point Does Smart Become Stupid?

In addition to 2020 being the year of the Coronavirus COVID-19, some would also say that it was the year of the voice-activated smart device. Sales of smart speakers in 2019 reached 146.9 million units and 2020 will likely approach 200 million units or more. The final number depends on how many showed up under Christmas trees as the 4th quarter. In addition, during 2020 we started to see Alexa advertised for other contexts, including in Buick automobile advertisements. Which brings up a couple questions.

Question 1: Is the advertisement below a real advertisement or an April Fool’s Day fake advertisement?

Question 2: At what point does the trend that smart speakers began reach the point of stupidity?

To answer that question I recommend that we revisit my definition of innovation:

“Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative.” — Braden Kelley

The one thing that many product managers often forget is that invention and innovation are not the same thing, and so at some point product managers are likely to invest past the invisible line on different value dimensions beyond what people are willing to pay for.

This leads to products being designed and launched that while they might be revolutionary and inventive, they actually end up being unprofitable and not innovative at all because the foundations of the new offering never reach wide adoption.

Are we approaching this point with smart devices?

Let’s try and answer this question by answering the first question about the video.

YES – This is in fact a real product.

Now, how many of you are going to rush out to your home improvement store and purchase one of these faucets to replace your existing kitchen faucet?

What if I told you that it would cost you $800-1,000 compared to very nice kitchen faucets that can cost under $100?

Very few people are likely to replace their kitchen faucet unless it stops working or starts leaking profusely.

At the same time, Moen will definitely sell some of these faucets to people who must have the latest gadgets.

If you were the product manager or innovation manager involved with this product, before launching it you should ask:

  1. Will we sell enough of this smart faucet to justify the cost of developing and marketing it?
  2. Will this smart faucet create enough of a brand halo to help us sell more of our traditional faucets?

The answers to these questions may very well be – yes.

But if not, then we have reached a point where SMART starts to become STUPID.

But, don’t stop there. You should also ask yourself questions like:

  1. Does it take longer to get a glass of water using the smart method than the easy manual way?
  2. Could my grandmother install and use it without reading the directions?
  3. Is this new capability valuable enough to drive replacement?

If you are an inventor or a product manager, these kinds of questions are the type that you must always be asking yourself – even if you don’t like the answers.

If you still decide to go ahead with a product that will be unprofitable, you will at least do so with open eyes – and for the right reasons.

For more on this topic, please be sure and check out my previous article – Innovation or Not – Amazon Echo Frames

Keep innovating!


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Google’s Insights into Successful Teams and Managers

A little over five years ago I created an evolution of a Gary Hamel framework from The Future of Management that I titled The Innovator’s Framework and included in my popular first book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire.

The Innovator's Framework

Recently Google recently released some of its extensive research into the skills and character traits of good managers and effective teams, and surprisingly the secret to a high-performing team lies less in the individual team members and more in the broader team dynamics: “Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.” High-performing teams, they found, almost always displayed five characteristics:

Google High Performing Teams

According to their research, by far the most important team dynamic is psychological safety – the ability to be bold and take risks without worrying that your team members will judge you. Now have a look at Google’s previous findings on the Eight Characteristics of Great Managers:

Google High Performing Managers

Eight Characteristics of Great Managers

When you compare the traits of a successful team, a successful manager, and the heirarchy in The Innovators’ Framework its interesting where the three overlap and where they diverge.

What do you see?

Sources: World Economic Forum
Image Credits: Google re:Work

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Can Windows 10 Disrupt Android and Get Microsoft Back in Handset Game?

Microsoft Tries to Disrupt Mobile Phone Market

Can Windows 10 Disrupt Android and Get Microsoft Back in Handset Game?I came across an article on Mashable recently highlighting a new Microsoft experiment. It highlights something that Microsoft has prototyped to test as part of their strategy to regain momentum in the mobile phone market by focusing on markets outside the United States where the first generation of the smartphone adoption battle hasn’t already been decided.

The first Microsoft branded phones are now appearing in the market as the relevance of the Nokia brand in the mobile phone market has nearly completely disappeared. With a single digit market share, Microsoft has to do something disruptive to get back in the game and get some value out of their huge Nokia acquisition. Most people would say that doing something disruptive is outside of Microsoft’s comfort zone, but there are examples to the contrary where Microsoft has been more innovative than Google or Apple, so nothing is impossible.

So enough buildup. What exactly is Microsoft fooling around with as a potential strategy to get back in the global smartphone market?

It is this…

Microsoft is working with Xiaomi to prove that it is possible to bring Windows to Android hardware. The technical details aren’t all that important, the bigger question is whether Android handset owners would consider doing this or not.

The big value proposition highlighted in the Mashable article is that Windows is less hungry for resources than Android and so especially for people with older smartphones the switch could make their handset feel more responsive. Someone switching like this probably wouldn’t make Microsoft any immediate money, but of course the hope would be that when they upgraded that they would choose a Microsoft OS handset for their next smartphone.

As someone who ditched his Android phone for a Nokia Lumia phone running Windows Phone and never looked back, I can confirm that Windows Phone is better than Android (althought the App selection is much smaller).

Given that Windows Phone biggest weakness is probably App availability, Microsoft better do everything they can to convert phones over to their new Windows 10 OS, other way that gap will never close. Will this experiment be fully unleashed? Will it work? Could Microsoft disrupt the smartphone market and get back in the game with this approach?

I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime, if you want to see more, check out the video above and work on your Chinese at the same time.

If you’re not sure what I meant by seamless computing when I referred to it above, I encourage you to check out my previous article – Cloud Computing is Dead, Long Live the Cloud! (which is also available as a narrated audio file)


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Microsoft Stomps on Google Glass

Microsoft Stomps on Google Glass

Wow!

I have to start that word, because I’m not sure how else to describe what has just emerged from Microsoft Research in the new Microsoft HoloLens.

And as I say in the title, if you watch the video below you’ll clearly see that Microsoft has just busted Google Glass – both lenses.

I said from the beginning that Google Glass would never catch on as a consumer product, because they look dumb, cost a lot of money, and don’t really fit into most people’s lives (or add much of anything to them). Recently Google shut down its consumer facing Google Glass program while they try to fix its shortcomings.

Microsoft’s HoloLens on the other hand, if you’ve ever read Innovation is All About Value (if not, follow the link) then you’ll quickly see after watching the video above that Microsoft’s new potential innovation ticks all three boxes in my innovation success prediction framework:

  • Value Creation – Takes 3D objects from your screen and brings them to your physical environment AND lets you interact with them (my mind races thinking about the possibilities).
  • Value Translation – Watch the video. If you don’t see how this might fit first into many professions out there and enable some amazing rapid prototyping without building anything (watch out 3D printing companies!), and possibly also into your personal life, I’ll be shocked.
  • Value Access – Microsoft is already engaging partners to add more value to what is essentially a platform, not a product.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft is being intentionally coy about saying when it will be releasing the Microsoft HoloLens, but some people are predicting it will be available in the Windows 10 launch timeframe, which Microsoft is also being vague about saying only “later in the year” – which for my money usually means Q4 (or maybe Q3) depending on how the preview version does in the wild.

So what do you think of Microsoft’s new HoloLens?

I for one will be reaching out to my friends at Microsoft (you know who you are) to get a personal preview for a further write-up in Innovation Excellence (the world’s most popular innovation web site), so stay tuned!


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Is Amazon Echo the Answer to Google?

Is Amazon Echo Answer to Google?

Today Amazon launched the Echo – an internet appliance with voice recognition and response designed to be to your living room what Siri and Cortana are to your pocket (you ask, it answers).

It is a bold move for Amazon in the wake of their disastrous market entry into the phone market with the Amazon Fire phone, and whether by luck or by design represents more of what customers are likely to give Amazon permission to do in the marketplace. And even though the Amazon Fire phone may be a failure, Amazon no doubt has learned a lot from the experience and from their experience with the Kindle e-reader and Kindle Fire tablets that will help them with the Echo.

The Echo is one reason that Google is worried about Amazon in the search market, because what would do Echo (Amazon), Siri (Apple) and Cortana (Microsoft) truly represent for Google but a direction in the search business that represents a huge revenue threat for Google.

When you ask Echo, Siri, or Cortana a question instead of typing it into a Google (or Bing) search box, Google (or Microsoft) make zero dollars, not even a single cent.

People may forget (or not even know) that Amazon has a search engine company, and owns other search related assets like iMDb and Alexa. Don’t think Amazon sees search as a new frontier for them?

Check out the A9 web site (which years ago used to look just like Google with a simple search box) to get a better sense of how Amazon thinks about search,

So what does nirvana look like in a world with Echo in the center?

Check out Amazon’s promotional video, which has already received 500,000 views at the time I wrote this article:

So, does echo fit into your life? Do you want it to?

I for one have signed up for an invitation to buy one (though it is not actually worth $99 to me – the Amazon Prime member discounted price – down from $199) hoping that Amazon in its infinite wisdom will send me one for free so that I can check it out and report back on it here on the world’s most popular innovation web site.

Oh, and by the way, if you didn’t already know Google now lets you search with your voice on your desktop too, but of course that it’s in the browser so they can still show you ads and make money.

I can’t help thinking that Amazon is behind schedule with this product though. I’m sure they probably wanted to be by invitation only over the summer and shipping in volume for the Christmas, Chanukkah and Kwanza gift giving season, but what are you going to do, invention is hard, unpredictable work. Whether this invention will turn into an innovation, only the consumer market can decide.


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No Time to Innovate

Take an Innovation Vacation

Innovation VacationA popular set of questions that I get asked repeatedly by clients and audience members includes the following:

We know we need to innovate, but who has time?

How do companies balance the day to day operations with the need to innovate?

Without a budget to allocate people to innovation, how can I make innovation part of people’s day jobs?

We all know that when it comes to business, and life in general, that there are two major constraints we all face – and often trade off one against the other – those two constraints are time and money.

Every organization may understand the need for innovation, but it is difficult to execute in a repeatable way because so many of our organizations are set up to maximize the extraction of value from today’s operations and do a poor job of balancing this admirable and necessary goal with the need to develop tomorrow’s revenue and profit-generating operations.

Some organizations set up research and development departments, new product development departments, corporate venturing arms, incubators, or skunkworks to try and address the needs for future revenue and profit streams, but this limits the number of people that can potentially contribute to the potential innovation process and success of the organization – and isolates the efforts from other valuable perspectives and inputs.

Other organizations like Google and 3M also have some of these structures, but in addition try and say to employees that they can spend up to a certain percentage of their time on innovation projects (or whatever work-related pursuit they might want). In 3M’s case the figure is 15% and in Google’s case it is 20%.

There is only one problem with percent time.

The day-to-day deadline pressures and fire drills never disappear in any organization (even an innovative one), and so often the joke goes – sure Google employees get 20% time, but only if it’s on Saturday or Sunday.

So what’s the solution?

Well, after talking with the folks at Intuit as part of the research for my next book project, I’ve come to discover that they approach the time for innovation problem slightly differently.

Instead of just allowing people to spend up to a blanket 10% of their time on innovation projects, instead they allow employees to accumulate that time and then schedule time off to pursue a specific innovation project, often doing so at the same time with 3-4 other employees so they can collaborate on the project idea and push it forward.

I like to call it taking an innovation vacation.

I think this is the best approach I’ve heard so far to balancing the needs of the day to day business and its need for predictable resourcing, with the desire to invest in innovation to sustain the business into the future.

Allowing employees to schedule a collaborative innovation vacation achieves SEVERAL key business goals:

  1. Predictability – It allows managers to do capacity planning and schedule around the employee’s absence
  2. Retention – Allowing employees to take a week or two here or there to pursue an innovation project they are interested in, is likely to lead to higher job satisfaction and retention
  3. Collaboration – If you encourage people to take their time off as cross-functional groups, we know that not only do diverse teams solve problems better, but we also know from EMC’s data on innovation submissions and finalists that projects pursued as teams instead of by individuals are 33% more likely to make the final cut
  4. Increased Organizational Performance – Organizations that have deeper networks and stronger cross-functional knowledge (more T people) are more likely to work together more efficiently, have fewer blind spots, have higher employee engagement, and just have more fun

Time out for a sanity check. 10% time equates to about five weeks a year, and 20% time would equate to about ten weeks a year. So, if you choose to pursue an innovation investment strategy like innovation vacations, you must plan accordingly in terms of staffing (factoring in of course that most employees won’t make full use of it), but I believe it can be done and should be done – for the long-term health of the business.

We try and convince people to allocate 10-15% of their income towards retirement so that they have money to provide for themselves when they grow old and retire, why shouldn’t an organization allocate a similar percentage?

What do you think, could you establish something like this in your organization?

What would you do with an innovation vacation?

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Can Microsoft win the Android and iPhone Haters?

Can Microsoft win the Android and iPhone Haters?Nobody, including people inside Microsoft, would argue with the fact that Microsoft beat Google and Apple to the Mobile OS marketplace, but lags them both in terms of market share.

According to Wikipedia, the IBM Simon was the world’s first smartphone and was released to the world nearly twenty years ago. This means that the smartphone market is yet another example of a market where mass adoption has lagged behind initial product introduction by 20-30 years. For the inventor audience this is important to note, because it shows that #1 – innovation takes time – and #2 – that being first is no guarantee of being number one in the market when mass adoption arrives.

Well, mass adoption in the smartphone market is now upon us.

The only question is – which operating system maker will dominate the golden years of the smartphone market?

Will it be Apple or Google?

Or do Microsoft and RIM have a change to counterattack and make themselves relevant again?

Invention does not guarantee innovation. Innovation requires that you create value above every existing alternative and that you achieve wide adoption. The reason we often see changes in the leadership of the marketplace of an emerging innovation is that often the market creator does a worse job than new entrants of adapting their solution offering for the evolving desires of the customers. New entrants generally see an opportunity to solve problems that the incumbents don’t, and an create new value that the incumbent solutions don’t deliver.

But can an incumbent react to newer entrants and rebuild momentum in the marketplace?

Motorola’s revitalization in mobile handsets shows that a competitive response focused on leadership instead of reaction can in fact get you back in the game.

So can Microsoft do the same thing and steal share from Apple and Google in the smartphone OS market?

The answer lies in whether Microsoft can do a better job than Apple or Google (or even RIM) of understanding why people hate their current smartphones, while also anticipating:

  1. What the needs of customers will be in 6-12 months
  2. What customers will want in 6-12 months
  3. What emerging technologies will make possible in 6-12 months

Timing is one of the key components to successful innovation. You can invent things at any time, but you can only turn an invention into an innovation when customers and other parts of the value chain can see the value and are ready to accept it. Whether customers and the value chain can see the value is of course dependent on how well you translate for them how a potential innovation will fit into their lives.

Can Microsoft and Nokia come up with the answers that the marketplace will accept in 6-12 months? Are their existing phones the right answer for customers now?

I don’t know. But I can tell you that I hate, absolutely hate, the Google Android operating system on my Samsung Galaxy S. The Samsung device itself seems relatively well-designed but the Google Android OS is always crashing, doesn’t make smart use of the SD Card (the internal memory is always filling up), and leaves me constantly frustrated.

I bought two Samsung Galaxy S phones on T-Mobile over two iPhones on Verizon or AT&T for my wife and I, because they will cost me $1,000 less over the two-year commitment.

I can tell you with certainty that my next smartphone when I’m eligible for an upgrade will NOT be a Google Android phone. At the same time I know people who hate their iPhones and their Blackberries as well, so this represents an opportunity for Microsoft to convert disgruntled iOS, Android and Blackberry customers. Plus, there are a still a lot of people without a smartphone that will buy one in the next 6-12 months.

These two market dynamics represent a huge opportunity for Microsoft to get back in the smartphone OS market. The only question is:

Will they take advantage of this opportunity?


Article first published as ‘An Opening for Microsoft and Nokia?’ on Technorati.

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