What the majority of companies (and product owners) see as competition (direct, in your face, so obvious a child to see it), is usually the easiest to counter. Which is why most company executives, owners, product managers, will view “competitive intelligence” as something fairly trivial. Hell, anyone could do it, it just takes time.
This is a great story, because it shows us one thing — analysis of a “market” or competitive landscape is much more than just looking at your direct competition.
I’ve done my stint in the research world, for a couple of very big, well know tech companies — and the reality is this: they want the easy answer, not the insight. I don’t want to be told “your competition is not that company down the street, it’s the 13 year old across the world”. Because they can “beat” that company across town, but have no idea how to win against the other.
So many times, we never see the real threat, and even though I personally believe you shouldn’t obsess about competition, you do need to understand where competitive threats might be lurking. I’m sure, when the company started creating a “better system”, they never really considered why the old system was even in place.
Millions of products have died from one fact — they solved a problem that didn’t care about a solution.