Monday, August 29, 2011

Run for where the puck will *be*, not where it is

Windows Laptop Makers Can't Catch Up to the MacBook Air, PCworld article.

The problem with PC manufacturers is not that they can’t build a computer as good as the hottest Apple thing, it’s that they’re constantly trying to. Apple is in the driver’s seat.
If you aim at a fast-moving target, you’re sure to hit behind it.

What Jason Cross doesn't say in this otherwise insightful article is that the reason almost no company except Apple is making products their customers have not told them they want, is that it's just so darn risky. It's just like the stock market: to win big, you have to bet on a stock or trend before all the other stock buyers catch on... but the chances are also all the much bigger that you bet wrong, and loose your pants.

A very few people, like a certain famous CEO who stepped down recently, have the golden touch, or perhaps the golden foresight, who knows. I had a colleague once who always won lotteries. I heard about it even before I saw proof: at a company party, they gave out three prizes for 500 people. This girl won two of them!

Everybody is trying to use market research and logic to beat the market, and particularly Apple. But I'll bet anything that Mr. Steve never used those things, he uses his intuition. You can't buy intuition. Maybe that's fortunate, or Rockefeller would have bought even more of it, cornered the market, and would have owned the planet wholesale now.

Update: article listing the projects Steve Jobs was involved in which were arguably industry-changing. Would you believe sixteen!?


Stephen A said...

Apple makes excellent highly refined derivative products, third and fourth generation iProducts.

The true inventors and innovators take the huge risks and massive investments of inventing the first generation and getting the second generation working right. On the consumer end first adopters take the risk of buying unproven technology. For every success there are dozens of failures.

At that point, when the basic technology is proven, the basic components are readily available, and an infrastructure exists but the general public Apple swoops in with a beautiful easy to use third generation implementation.

This drives massive adoption but it also freezes innovation dead as other players slavishly make iProduct "killers" and any new feature is attacked as "not necessary" until Apple adopts it years later.

Worse yet, Steve Jobs is credited with personally "inventing" the technology.

This is all fine and good until the actual inventors starve and the pipeline of hard fought future products die out. Apple isn't spending a cent of their huge market cap "paying it forward" with risky longshot basic research.

In short Steve Jobs has been the David Sarnoff to the Edwin Armstrongs of the world.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Not untrue, admittedly. I think virtually the whole world is like that. The pop artists inspired by Iggy Pop always earned much more than him.

But then if there was no "Apple" in the chain, nobody would make any money at all.
I don't know how to make it fair.