It is now obvious (in hindsight’s what’s not?) that the iPhone both reached a plateau in term of units penetration, but also price point. Don’t expect to see in 2019 +30% growth in iPhone penetration in US or EU compounded by unit’s price reaching 2,000 USD / EUR.
Innovation is taking responsibility for the fact that your company will still be there in 2022. Not everyone might be concerned right now, but you have to make sure that it’s not handed away to a small team without political power that will work « as a startup » or « learn by doing ». If it doesn’t make sense to handle your financial or manufacturing process, it’s probably unreasonable for future-proofing your company.
In a video called « The End of the Beginning », Benedict EVANS talks on the shifting point we are living as a global connected society and how to understand the future of your market.
A few take aways that you might want to consider:
- You market always was a part of a more global value chain from which you won’t be insulated anymore;
- The speed and volume of China now formally predates everything else, this is not « if » or « when », it’s « from now on »;
- The new tools provided by the Amazons and the Baidus of the world are now fully in play and force us to compete to a next level: not new solutions, but unbundling and new full-stacks;
- New values brought to the market will be massive and yet difficult to frame (the difference between the value of being cured from an hearth attack vs. the value of avoiding it).
But also, a word of caution. Even us, that are in the full-time business of understanding these changes, cannot avoid but falling in the very same traps we try to flag:
Understanding the future of your market is not only about seeing Amazon as a super-powered platform (« I sell whatever I want ») or a global tech leader with a space program.
It’s getting beyond this obvious point, and understanding that like Alibaba they will be the unique layer between you and what you decide to consume. They will be the unique prism that arbitrate what you want and decide to buy… An operating system to consumer life and reality.
These are the changes that shape the future of your own market, and we ended up understanding after 10 years of struggle with mobile and the internet is now not accelerating, but going to the next level.
Not many incumbents will survive this. Even if they got good at this internet thing in the end…
I try to avoid talking mathematics when I address innovation strategy. As soon as I do it I’m victim of a very personal impostor syndrome (I’m not a mathematician) while realizing I’m going down deep, deep rabbit holes. As a matter of fact, when writing about Monthy Hall’s problems — which are key to understand uncertainty and innovation — I know I’m getting probably too technical.
Now I’m no mathematician, but I’m still a formally trained scientist. And one of the early mental model you integrate as such is to be deeply cautious about the difference in correlation and causation.
For all these reasons, I always find refreshing when others try to painstakingly try to reinject mathematical common sense for business executives. And, recently I read a delightful discussion on the McRib Effect:
When we arrived in the Netherlands two years ago, we adjusted our mode of life immediately. The key thing was to get rid of our cars. Who needs one if you live in Amsterdam? But this mobility paradise didn’t happen just because « Dutch love bikes ». There were actually many factors that were involved in the seventies to turn the country away from a car-centric future.
These lessons should be learned. As I am in an event on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula today, to discuss new mobility business models, it seems appropriate to remind us of a few things:
I’ve seen and read lately a lot of non-sense on how China is building a global surveillance network of its citizens through social scoring. Truth be told, it is not a simple issue and I was glad to get myself a better perspective on what it means through Rogier CREEMERS summarizing his social research on the subject at SMC050 conference in July 2018. If you’re a global company with retail business there or an investment firm, these are 36 minutes worth your time.
We idealize startups as fast young (start-) fast-growing companies (-up) that innovate with new technology.
In real life, most of the startup you meet don’t grow fast. Fast could mean for any professional investor (not your garden variety of business angels) reaching for a first million euro in sales within two to three years. Such speed would require a team with startup experience entering the market in different cities in Europe, with a plan.
Mature teams. A plan. Aggressive soft landing strategies. Well, I’ve already wiped off the broad 90% of the startups you meet in incubators, acceleration programs, corporate incubators, technology transfer platforms, etc.
Most of innovation programs that I encounter are still organized as R&D programs. We often call that the innovation pipeline fallacy. It’s mostly due to the fact that most organizations don’t get that innovation is not R&D, and that consecutively innovation doesn’t fit in a pipeline.
I’m still in the ongoing process of waking up a few of my customers (and the readers of this blog) on why the Chinese market is such a specific and fast one. Three years ago, I was pointing the inexorable move of the Chinese government toward clean energies, and forecasting that by 2020 they would export green tech and electric vehicles to Europe and the US. And we are getting there.
At the moment, my concern and major interest is the huge disconnect that has built up between consumers and retail brands in the West and how they deal with the Chinese market, as a digital monster.
In June, I was writing about « Platforms’ Dark Patterns » as a cautionary forecast on how the GAFA / BATX will evolve to sustain their constant push for pervasiveness in our daily lives.
Today, Facebook announced « Portal », an always on connected home camera to keep in contact with family and friends… through the Facebook servers:
Understanding the Apple Watch is hard.
In September 2014 Jean-Claude BIVER, President of LVMH Watchmaking Division (Tag Heuer, Zenith, Hublot) famously said:
This [Apple] watch has no sex appeal. It’s too feminine and looks too much like the smartwatches already on the market. To be totally honest, it looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester.
The main difficulty is probably to step back and remind ourselves it’s merely a moving part one of the largest consumer ecosystem on the planet. In this ecosystem, every single added device exponentially increase the customer’s value of the free and the paid services provided:
After years of working with every kind of startup programs — read: incubators, accelerators, tech clusters, public tech transfer, universities, entrepreneurs’ networks, corporate platforms, and various EU initiatives — I keep asking myself: are we still learning anything new about startups?
For early stage startups there are basically only three things to remember:
- If you’re a one-man startup you will fail;
- Spend time working on tech and product, instead of seeing where the market has a problem and you fail;
- Don’t start working in English and you will never scale (that one might be blunt and would deserve a full article, but yeah, essentially this is what is going to happen).