First movers and followers

Don Doge wrote his Innovate or imitate post. It's worth reading.

My memory is that VisiCalc was slow to adopt the DOS platform. Lotus 123 moved ahead on DOS and achieved market leadership, but failed to jump onto the Windows platform fast enough. Excel did make the move and the rest is history.

The trend there is clear. The question for our company is… what the next platform that will separate the leader(s) from the pack.

He goes on to list other examples:

  • AltaVista -> Google
  • Napster -> iTunes
  • VisiCalc -> Lotus 123 -> Excel
  • Word Perfect -> Word
  • Netscape -> Internet Explorer
  • Apple Newton -> Palm Pilot -> Blackberry
  • IBM PC -> Compaq -> Dell
  • Double Click -> Google Ad Sense
  • Ofoto -> Flickr
  • Compuserve -> AOL -> @Home -> Comcast & Verizon

His reasoning is excellent and well worth reading. Here is the punchline:

Why did the fast followers take over market share leadership?

  • Better business model (Google, Ad Sense, Dell)
  • Better market position (Word, Excel, Comcast, Verizon)
  • Better timing (iTunes, Flickr)
  • Better platform choices (Blackberry, Word, Excel)
  • Better management (all the fast followers)

His wrapup is great:

Lessons for entrepreneurs;

  • Never stop innovating
  • Build a well rounded management team early
  • Value sales and marketing talent as much as technical talent
  • React quickly to disruptive technologies or business models
  • Don't be too proud to imitate when it makes sense

If you're into learning about management, I recommend you click through to Innovate or imitate and read it.


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