Enterprises deal with innovations all the time. As technology and business processes change, organizations must decide if and when they will adopt the new paradigms and approaches.
Innovators and early adopters can reap great rewards, but face increased risks as they do so. The bulk of firms typically adopt innovations in the early or late majority stages as shown in the diagram below.
Windows 8 is a very different GUI from its competitors – Android and iOS – with its use of Live Tiles, the so-called Metro-style interface. In fact, it can be validly viewed as an innovation that has the potential to totally change the way users interacts with device OSs.
The counter view is that competitive products – Android and iOS in particular – while different, offer good enough functionality to prevent the innovation – the Live Tiles interface – from becoming the status quo.
In addition, some say, market dominance of the Android/iOS duopoly may prevent Windows 8 and its UI from becoming the new normal, particularly in the mobile space.
What Microsoft understands is that the height and shape of the innovation diffusion curve is not predefined or written in stone. It depends to a large extent on how they guide the product, how it evolves and of course, its marketing, advertising and developer/partner support.
Certainly some innovations go truly viral with hardly any marketing (e.g., thumb drives, Pinterest). However, you have to fight for every percentage point of market share in the cruel tablet and smartphone market.
No innovation’s success is assured in this day and age.
The key for Microsoft is that they must spend the greatest effort at the beginning of the curve, to set the steepest upward trajectory.
That’s where loss-leaders are needed, that’s where the product evangelists must be on the road and the coolest ads and user experiences must be trumpeted.
That’s also when the widest circle of partners (read app developers) must be cultivated.
Back to loss leaders. In a nutshell, the Surface RT and the Surface Pro are TOO expensive. If Amazon can sell the Kindle Fire at or below cost, surely Microsoft can do the same. They have the resources and they won’t go bankrupt.
To Microsoft: charge your OEMs a pittance for Windows 8 for the first couple of years. Charge $5 for Office 2013 for a couple of years also. Why? To shape the trajectory of the curve.
In the old days, innovations would take on a life of their own and soar to heights unaided. In today’s tech world, they need added muscle and thinking outside the box to succeed.
What do you think about Surface as an innovation? Participate in the discussion below to share your thoughts.