Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't overuse technology just because you can

This article from uses four watches to show that just because innovators can use a new and trendy technology in their product, doesn’t necessarily mean that they should.  Three of the watches have touch screens, while one does not.  The author shows that the touch screen watches are no better than the one without a touch screen.  He draws attention to his own theory, the Long Nose of Innovation.  In this theory, he asserts that any technology which is likely to make an impact over the next 10 years is already at least 10 years old, and in the process of being perfected.  Thus, simply incorporating what you think is a new innovation (like a touch screen) into your product is really not innovative at all.

This led me to also consider the Blackberry Storm, which seemed to represent a scramble for Research In Motion to keep up with the iPhone.  However, Blackberry Storms have received terrible reviews, and loyal Blackberry customers have tended to stick with more traditional models with a screen and full keyboard.  

This article also led me to consider Malcolm Gladwell’s article, Smaller.  While it was incredible innovative for diaper companies to come up with ways to make their diapers more compact, this was not a trend that other industries needed to follow.  For example, throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, mobile telephones were becoming smaller and thinner as time went on.  One was not able to tell if we would one day be using cell phones like that in Zoolander.  However, more recently a shift has occurred and people want their smart phones to have bigger screens and interfaces.  Cell phone manufacturers who continued to make their products smaller - just because they could - likely missed out on this opportunity to appeal to a new audience.

Thus, this article and several examples from historical trends show that copying another innovation’s technology is not a sure way to gain equal success.  

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you - whenever a product includes a feature simply to keep up with another product or otherwise in its own right and not for the betterment of the overall product, the device will likely be frustrating and overpriced.

    The Storm has no doubt been a mess. I have a friend whose Storm used to turn to camera mode, flip upside down, and then restart when she would try to make calls. That said, I think the clickable screen is a great idea. I think the failed innovations - even those that prove to be horrible combinations of technology like the watches you mentioned - help innovators gain further perspective into what works and what doesn't and ultimately lead to those products that really do make a difference.