Greetings. Sometimes great companies make big mistakes. It's just the nature of business. And sometimes those mistakes are based on the best available insight and thinking. But other times those missteps point out that even the biggest and most successful companies are bound by the same rules as the rest of us. And one of those rules is the simple fact that success is all about being different and better in ways that matter to customers.
Take the case of Hewlett-Packard–a world-renowned business with a rich and inventive history. The company's quick entrance and quicker exit from the tablet PC market illustrates this straightforward idea. Tablets are a hot item, spurred by the popularity of Apple's iPad, and it seems that everyone wants to get in on the action. But the iPad has, even with its limitations, set a very high bar in terms of design, technology, user experience and coolness factor…which makes entry into this market a real challenge even for other leading companies. That doesn't mean that a competing offering can't ever succeed. But to win it must be significantly different and significantly better. Not simply a late-arriving "me-to" product that claims to "work like nothing else." And that means either: (a) being significantly different and better overall or (b) being significantly different and better in a more limited but profoundly important way that matters most to a large enough segment of customers with particular needs.
And unfortunately for HP its TouchPad is neither…which is why it quickly became a $99 "fire sale" item rather than a credible competitor.
So if you're thinking about launching a new offering, think first about whether it will really make a difference to customers in your market.
We win in business and in life when provide unique value to those we serve. And when we never underestimate the real power of innovative market leaders.