January 11, 2010

Solve tomorrow’s problem (or get out fast)

Necessity is the mother of invention, and as a consequence, lots of new products address today’s felt needs.

If you’re developing a tech product, though, I think it’s a better plan to address tomorrow’s needs than today’s. Because by the time you develop and market your product, today will be history, and gone with it may be the problem you were trying to solve.

Remember the dedicated e-mail devices that were sold in office supply stores? A small screen, keyboard, and phone-line connection so that you could get on e-mail for a couple hundred bucks instead of buying a more expensive general-purpose computer.

Not a big hit, because the price of the computer was falling every day.

The family radios? (Higher-powered, more phone-like walkie-talkies.) Released just a few years before everyone and their dog got a much more useful cell phone.

Of course you can be too early. E-books are hot now, but none of the pioneers of the late 1990’s are with us today.

There is money to be made solving today’s problem, and if you’re able to move quickly and exploit a window in time, good for you. But if you’re making a large investment, it’s worth looking down the road.

Comments

  1. Amit Purohit :

    I totally agree on solving tomorrow’s problems. To build up on what you said: those are the people who ultimately do the wonders rather than being a common man…
    I am meeting you today & will have lot more in-depth discussion then.

  2. Rod Groom :

    Bob,
    I just got Logos 3 a year ago, and upgraded to Logos 4 at the end of the year. Still learning, but very impressed with what I have learned so far. Your comments about planning to solve tomorrow’s problems today has been working away at the back of my mind. I am not a techie, but I like techie stuff! I love what you are doing with the iPhone app and hopefully other formats and devices. It struck me today that if options were sold that would allow transfer between all these new, different and evolving formats out there, I for one would be interested in buying them. For example, a system add-on that would allow me to convert a book in my Logos library for download to ePub format and allow a one-book transfer to an ebook reader. Or perhaps a small feel to convert formats online with Logos for other devices like a Kindle, a Nook, or whatever else is coming out in the near future. Or how about this, when we do a search of a collection, let us define the collection to include some resources on the same computer, but in a non-Logos format? This is all pretty wild, but I took Mo Proctor’s class in Tampa last week, and he has got me dreaming of the future! Blessings to you and all your staff for the wonderful work you do. Dream big!

  3. Amen and amen! I remember I was going to buy my elderly “pretech” Mom one of those “convenient” email devices.
    At 75yo she was just as content to use the phone. Which for me was a bit “old school”, slow and, since she expected a call every Sunday afternoon, it would have solved MY scheduling problem. I’ve never been one for phone chatting but I could have whipped out 10 email a week. Nope! She wasn’t interested. So, I kept calling thinking there are “better” ways to communicate than the phone EVERY Sunday afternoon.
    I never did get a nifty Email device and #almost# every Sunday I called. She’s gone now and I’m glad I have memories of “talking” to her. Afterall, Emails would have long since been deleted.
    Matta’ fact; she probably never would have Emailed me anyway! Guess there’s something still to be said for “old school!”.
    Rev. Don Walley, Director
    The aXiom Network – Committed to Worldwide Witness on the World Wide Web
    http://www.theaxiomnetwork.com
    P.S. Thanx for the memories…

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