Lessons on product innovation

Neowin reports  MSN Messenger will be released on the 17th of July. Folks like Yahoo sit on their rear ends. Come on now! Yahoo had a stable IM platform from early 1998 and have not innovated much(the latest ofcourse was the IM Environment, which was cool but nothing earth stattering).

It is very easy for market leaders to become complacent. They start to relax after looking @ the market lead. This is happened way to many times for companies to repeat the same mistake. It is true that a market lead is helpful but product companies have to keep the hard work that was initially put in and innovate. With goliaths like Microsoft who are mindblowing at entering the market late and coming out with better products, the market leaders have to be on their heals if dont want to be dead meat!. Time and time again microsoft has proven this! Begining with browser days and now with C# and Java. You got to give it to MS, they are masters @ coming in late and kicking everyones butt!! It is easy for one to come up with an excuse and say “oh! they got into the market later and hence had the advantage of not making the same mistakes”. Bottom line, it does not matter! I truly believe if the market leader can continue to innovate it is tougher for goliath to catchup(although unlimited cash reserves & muscling ones way thro are definitely problems and thats where the antitrust laws kick in). Microsoft is made to sweat it out by competitors like Intuit where they are yet to make inroads. Consider the Browser market, while the battle lines wear drawn there was a lot of innovation. Now that the clear winner has emerged browser innovation has pratically stopped! (I still believe Netscape sat on their 5.0 release and their 4.7 release sucked!) To pundits who suggest that there is nothing more to innovate in the browser, I dont agree! Come on, ever looked the bookmark problem!(I wish my book mark would remind me when I have to read a online magazine that releases the first of every month!).

Coming back to Instant messaging, Yahoo’s niche is the umbrella of services it provides! while AOL’s was the simplicity of tools it provided as a ISP(AOL keyword). Microsoft is catching up on both these fronts and it not going to be long before it beats AOL/Yahoo. Consider the enterprise market, Yahoo is used in many enterprises that I know of and we used to use it in my previous company as well. With the market lead that Yahoo had on IM, it still beats me on why Yahoo has not come out with a corporate IM. But now with MS releasing Greenwich! Yahoo is running for its life to release its corporate version!

Its not too late, companies still use Lotus sametime for IM and its sux!(Thats an under statement) If some company has a shot @ giving MS a run for its money on corporate IM then I think its Yahoo (There was even talk about Yahoo coming up with the corporate version of My Yahoo, dont know what happened). I dont think AOL has much of a chance.

Bottom line: Just cuz you are the market leader you cant affford to sit on your read end and expect to keep the lead! You got to push the envelope and innovate thats the only way you will remain a market leader!

I’d love to see more companies give MS a run for their money! Would make things spicier in life 😉 Is’nt it fun to watch BEA and IBM battle it out in Application server market?


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