Saturday, November 05, 2005

Warp Pipe or Garbage bin?

When I was 12, my brothers and I went on an intense money gathering campaign. We pooled our collective resources, and began nagging our parents, washing cars, and weeding gardens. In desperation, we even collected aluminum cans...

(I seem to remember my brother actually telling the Alco guy to 'piss off!' when he handed over seventy-five cents in return for two garbage bags of crushed cans. To us, that represented an entire weekend spent in garbage cans. He was a pretty brave nine year old.)

The purpose of all this entrepreneurial activity was this machine: the Nintendo Entertainment System. At the time, I didn't want anything else in the world.

Back then, I didn't know anything about marketing, or statistics. If you had told 12 year old me that 31 percent of homes had a video game console, I wouldn't have cared. I would've smiled politely and asked you for money.

Now that I know enough to be interested, do you know what that figure is?
31-32 percent.

That's a market that hasn't grown at all (proportionately) in 18 years.

That's why Nintendo came out today and started talking about disruptive technologies. Reggie Fils-Aime, the original extreme marketing guy, spoke at a press summit about Nintendo's strategies for moving forward, and for the upcoming Revolution (Which I now want more than anything else in the world).

He cites the example of Sony, who were so focused on building a better discman, they didn't notice an unexpected competitor almost completely capture what used to be their market with a remarkable product, pitched squarely at early adopters.

That's what Nintendo are trying to do - shake up the market in order to see it grow. Will they be able to do it? We'll have to see. But the alternative is just to keep watching your competitors, asking focus groups, getting locked into feature shootouts, and delivering more of the same. Which I guess is still a sound strategy, if your goal is to make cash...

(It doesn't sound very exciting, though.)

More on disruptive technologies here.

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