A Touchy Subject – Part 2 (by Mark St.Cyr)

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I must assume some of you at first blush wondered why in the world I would even touch upon such a topic. It’s a fair question.

The reason is more times than not we believe one thing is driving a
market. Yet, we find the actual drivers aren’t anything we first
considered. Remember when a cellphone was the newest and greatest device
known to man before it was replaced with a smart phone?

Think back to all those great features we enjoyed while continually
adding more at a near breathtaking pace. You, me, and a lot of others
believed those updates or added features were caused by our demand or,
our ability to influence the market of cellphones. After all it’s all
about us. Right? Wrong…

Back in the days of olde at around the late 90′s early 2000′s (to
some that’s equivalent to the time of Gutenberg) cellphone models were
constantly updated, improved, and at a far more breakneck pace and
offerings than iPhone® is accused of today.

However, all those features, models, or updates were not caused by
what most thought. (namely ourselves) The market was dominated by the
demands of Japanese teenage girls. (Here’s an older article to give some context.)

That’s correct. As you were using the modern phenom of business
efficiency with all it’s great models, features and more. The primary
reason why it was equipped with, had a certain look or feel, and it’s
user interface was set up by the direct influence from this market
demographic . They were the drivers – not us. (us being a relative term)

Consequently if they didn’t need or want a certain feature. We
weren’t getting it. Regardless if we needed or wanted it. Again, they
were the market – not us.

As we all know teenagers are all about style, fads, coolness,
what-ever. Although, what they were all about to the cellphone industry
at the time was – Dollars and Cents.

If Ma, Dad, Mr. or Mrs. Business buy only 1 cellphone every year or
so, you are not even considered market worthy when compared to a
teenager with teenage angst. Especially if that angst compels them to
want (and buy) the latest model to be in the “me too” club. Never mind
how many they’ll need to buy just to replace the lost or damaged ones.
(Adults treat these items like they cost money. Need I say more?)

Changes in business today not only spin on a dime but, it can change
for reasons we believe we know (or think we do) and in hindsight can be
shown more often than not we were completely unaware of the true reasons
or impact of the drivers.

Ponder this for a moment: If the business world dominates what
technology or platform we will use – especially for business. Why then
did a product like Apple’s iPhone® not only take the mass market by
storm – it basically made the only dominant player Blackberry® (who?)
iPhone was laughed at by the business world as being an enterprise player. Today, it’s the other way around.

All this market shift, change of platforms, change of leaders, change
of everything we have come to know as the “world of a cellphone”
happened in less than 5 years. iPhone was first released in June 2007.
Most never seen or had one till frankly quite later. Now, frankly they
don’t know a world without it. I say again – 5 years!

Now, even though the above resembles change at the speed of light
let’s put into perspective this change when we remember a very
important, and critical factor:  You need to actually go out (or order
online) an actual phone.

How much faster with the possibly of far more impact can happen when
you take the critical element of needing an actual physical product to
foster such change? That’s an important question that you might want to

Newspapers laughed when CareerBuilder® or Monster® started vying for
job postings. After all (they told themselves) who’s going to look
on-line for a job in their own backyard? And regardless they’re about
selling news. Besides, they always have the classified ads. What are
people going to do, sell their belongings online?

Yep, and you can now buy “like new” printing presses cheap on Ebay®
I’m told. (I don’t think they’re selling all that well – there seems to
be no demand.)

Just how fast did you change from looking up a number or address in
something called “The Yellow Pages®?” Can you even remember when you no
longer even looked?  You just Google® it now don’t you?

Do you even keep those books they leave on your doorstep any longer?
Or do they go directly to the recycle bin? For most it’s the latter.
Again, that is decades of business practice and more – gone!

How about a few more? DVD’s, VCR’s, CD’s, all now – irrelevant.

I could go on however, there is a common thread here. All of these were as I said earlier – an actual physical product.

All this change – all this disruption – all at break neck speed – all
changed, and took place by what seemed like very minor disruptions to
dominant leaders at first. Yet, was exactly what led to their demise.

For some their demise revolved around their contention that the affected portion was only a small part of their business model. Only to find out it wasn’t “small.” It was their business model.

Newspapers, books, and others fall into this category. For others
it’s “This is the best technology has to offer because that’s what we
think.” Only to find out things like getting rid of the keyboard and
replacing it with a screen – or getting rid of disk altogether and
streaming was the better technology.

And even if it isn’t. It doesn’t matter. If that’s what the customer now wants and buys. That’s the best. Period.

Recovery for most is near futile once it takes place. Which make it
all the more important to be alert for these seemingly subtle changes in
the first place. Because the end result can be anything but subtle.

I’ll finish this up with one more column forthcoming.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr   www.MarkStCyr.com

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