By Brian McKay
It used to be that any innovative company could expect to start with the early adopters that were willing to pay more in order to be first. They were excited for new tech innovations and crucial to getting the product out there and making money. It seems things have changed and the early adopters are something that can’t be planned on.
So what happened to them?
Things started to become “good enough”. The 90’s and early 2000’s saw some massive improvements and changes in tech. Cell phones became smart phones. TV’s actually became flat (and you could carry the damn thing). Camera’s no longer needed film. The Internet got way, way faster. Now the changes feel more incremental.
A 4k tv is nice. There is no doubt the picture is great, but that cheap LCD has a pretty good picture as it is currently. Whoa, camera’s now have 24 megapixels, or more, but how much of a difference is there from the 18 megapixel one you bought 2 years ago? Is your $200 sound bar cool? Would you spend $2000 to replace it with an amazing surround sound system? Yeah, didn’t think so.
That begs the next point. The American consumer has changed substantially. Clothes that were once bought at Macy’s are now shifting to TJ Maxx and Ross. Discount shopping is in vogue. It is now actually cool to say you got a deal. Guess what? Those Rich Kids of Instagram that show off huge purchases and use iPhones to eat sushi on; well most people now realize they're just assholes. The Rich House Wives, or whatever the hell they are called, are watched by bored, older housewives that dream of divorces that actually pay out, not by the up and coming generations.
Having the latest thing isn’t cool anymore. Having the best experience ever is cool. So you have the fastest computer? Great. I have tickets to the Bottlerock festival in Napa this summer. Who is cooler now?
There are two areas where first adoption is still really cool and your company doesn’t play in either space. They are new smart phone and game console introductions. Why those? Smart phones have it all. They have your camera, music player, Internet access, blogging device, online dating service, every friggin’ thing that grabs your attention 50 times a day. And game consoles? Well if you want the latest game you have no choice but to upgrade immediately.
So your start up exists in neither space and all other early adopters are gone. What do you do?
Create for experiences. That’s it. How do you expand and improve experiences? Faster isn’t enough now. Marginally better sound doesn’t matter. More megapixels mean very little. Experience disruption matters and if you enhance experiences substantially, you have a user base. Ask yourself, how is our product like the person comparing their latest and greatest festival tickets to the guy that just bought a new tablet. If yours is as cool as holding up a handful of tickets, well that is a win.
So the next question is, how do you create for experiences? Think like the App Store. Make it easy, inexpensive (or relatively so) and be willing to add layers of experiences over time to keep people engaged in the ecosystem you have created and not someone else’s. The early adopter is gone and you need mass adoption now! If you don’t play to experiences, don’t plan on it ever happening.
This website could be big next week and gone the next if management doesn’t play their cards right. They have to offer an experience that is quick, easy, just enough information to be relevant and it all has to always be enhanced. Think like that and your chances at a win have gone up substantially.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, available under aCreative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption. He used to love the newest and greatest tech too. Now his old XBox 360 is "good enough". The thought of a new XBox and Fallout 4 scares the beejezus out of him because he doesn't have 300 hours of life to lose at this point.