Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Litl voice in a loud world

In his TED speech in February of 2003, Seth Godin spoke in the wisdom of selling to early adapters. His argument was that in a world in which we are flooded with advertising, that it makes sense to target those precious few who may actually be listening to what you’re saying. For most innovative new products the logic seems sound, but it seems like there is at least one situation in which this may not be true. That is when the innovation is actually a simplification or refinement of current technology to make it appeal to the masses. How would Henry Ford have launched a car for the common man in today’s noisy market? I think the Litl may be a good modern example. The Litl is a small home computer that is not a laptop, desktop or netbook. The idea is that most home computer users only access web content, to surf the web or watch videos. To better meet this need the Litl has no hard drive, a super simple operating system, and is designed to be able to blend into a home’s ascetic. It also has an HDMI output for attaching to a TV and playing hi-def videos. The main selling points are ease of use, the non-computer ascetic, and a lack of excess features. This is the exact opposite of what early adapters would typically want, which is the whole idea. How then, do they get heard and noticed? I really don’t have an answer to this. I think I would love the Litl,, but for two reasons. One is the $700 dollar price tag, another is that you can only buy it online. I can’t see it and play with it before I buy it, although they are offering a money back guarantee to add incentive. The founder has completely self funded this project because he wants the company to be able to tolerate more risk than investors would tolerate. I think this is well advised. I think Godin’s theory is incomplete. Certain companies earn a voice even in a crowded market. If Apple launched this product, I think we would all have heard of it, and I might have one. As it stands now, I doubt I’ll ever own a Litl.

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