Your Competition Is Irrelevance

David Fauchier for

When billion dollar tech companies die, it’s rarely because they were out-competed by a direct competitor. It’s usually much simpler, and far more traumatic: They go from being the best at what they do, to still being the best at what they do…except that it doesn’t matter any more.

They don’t get outcompeted. They simply become irrelevant.

For as long as I’ve been around, Nokia has made the best feature phones. My first phone was the 3310. I now own a 1100 on a drawer somewhere as a burner phone for backpacking trips. I buy one approximately every never (they never break), and the ASP is £10. Nokia makes the best feature phone, but that hasn’t mattered since Apple made the smartphone.

Again: Microsoft / DELL / Lenovo make fantastic laptops, but then 2007 happened, and nobody cared anymore:

Similarly, Ben Thompson posted this up a few years ago:

Google still totally dominates search advertising. Soon, perhaps, nobody will care. Can you replace ‘search ads’ with ‘Google’ and ‘native ads’ with ‘Facebook’? Have we hit Peak Google?

To be clear, this is not a new phenomenon. In 1946 the Republic Aviation Company released the Republic XF-12 Rainbow — the fastest plane in the world. To this day it’s still the fastest piston plane ever built — four engines, 400 mph cruise, 4,000 mile range at 40,000 feet. A work of art. Except the jet engine came out at the same time, and the Rainbow never even made it into production.

So — worry less about your competition and more about your users. Remember that you sell a solution, not a product, and remember, always, to fear irrelevance.

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