Being Late to the Party
This is an article taken from my recent newsletter that I have since retired, so I’m posting it here to let it live even longer. This article specifically was written on the 1st October 2016.
This is something that happens to a lot of companies, that release a new product, when there are already multiple competitors already out there. The situation that made me think of this article was the new messaging app by Google, Allo.
There are tons of different messaging apps out already, with the most notable being Apple’s Messages, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM’s, SnapChat, and loads more. And with all of these, they come with a basic foundation of features.
This is the problem with Allo, as it’s a new product, that clearly has competitors on the market already, but it hasn’t really done enough to become a worthwhile replacement. Because even if you’re using a certain app/service, if a new rival comes out with something functionally the same then you’re most likely not going to swap. And if the new product has a lower level of functionality, then I’m pretty sure that number will be a lot lower. Sure you can send fun messages with stickers, emojis, and cool effects. But what you don’t get is at least a basic level of privacy and security, support for devices like the iPad, Mac, and PC, and anything special to make a switch worthwhile.
I think this is down to being late to the party, in that this app may of been a decent messaging competitor a few years ago, but now the common level of features have grown so much, there’s a higher standard needed for new products.
I think you narrow the main things a new product/service needs to be successful are:
- Include the basic level of features that the current competitors have.
- Add something special so that you stand out, and actually provide a different experience.
- Ensure that the switching process is as smooth as possible.
These obviously won’t make something successful, but in my opinion they are three rules you have to follow, in order for your product to not be unsuccessful.
Sometimes you look at a certain market, or a type of product and you think “I can do this much better”, but normally all you’re doing is branching off a mainstream product and creating a more niche experience.
It’s all down to there being loads of people around the world making great products, and with so much quality competition, the hurdles for a newcomer are far greater. So as products evolve, the quality of user experience increases, and generally as users do things differently, it means new products have to do so much more, and take a lot longer to develop than before.
You could even relate this problem to my column from last week, “Diversity in Tech”, where I wrote about the lack of choice in mobile phone technology. And this could be down to the fact that the current devices are of such a high quality, and the services they come with have matured to be stable and also relied upon, that the cost of switching is always increasing.