Wednesday, December 03, 2008

please, stop the killing, and make babies

I saw yesterday that we launched a very nice looking phone the n97, but was dismayed that it was immediately branded an iphone killer. At least we had the good sense not to officially invoke comparisons, but we didn't discourage them.

Being described as a category killer is bad for two reasons. First, it just buckets us into a follower role - our moves are seen as defensive responses. But more important, it misses the point - the value is increasingly in the services and experiences, not the hardware. So, as the technologists froth over hardware porn such as 5MP cameras, buckets of RAM and the ability to play Flash videos, the real competition is in the service innovation. How will our new products reinvent old fashioned applications like the music player, contacts books and calendar and connect these to the web, and your friends and locations in truly unique ways? We shouldn't be making category killers, we should be making category babies and launching entirely new species.

My friend and visionary Wyndham put it like this in an email to me this morning about the iPhone: "It is the first time for years that people have overt behaviours around the applications and it is a focal point of conversation. There is a shift in the conversation since the 90’s when people last talked about their choice of phone." So, the big test for me will be when we roll out our innovations targeted at our lighting a fire under the developers and application makers, in light of the very real stat of 10,000 iphone applications.

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