This post could also be named “Why market share doesn’t matter”, “Why I don’t care what now-standard ideas you invented”, or “What have you done for me lately?”
In my career, like most of you, I have sat through too many product presentations, marketing pitches, and technical demos to count. I have talked to countless engineers, account managers, architects, gurus, and charlatans. Some folks fit more than one category.
It struck me recently that I tune out almost immediately when I hear, in the context of explaining why I should choose a particular product, that “we have the largest market share and ship more units of this tech than any of our competitors!” Why? Because if that’s your lead story, and not the quality or innovativeness of your tech, you’re riding on past success and inertia. I’m not interested in inertia. I want to see what you’re doing that’s INTERESTING.
A certain large OEM told me that they invented a particular technology class (when in fact it was invented – more or less – by a company they acquired), as a basis for why their technology was superior. Now, don’t get me wrong – “we’ve been doing this longer than anyone else, and therefore have had more time to refine our solution” is a perfectly valid argument – but not as your lead story. Likewise, telling me (this was another OEM) that you invented a particular idea (even though you didn’t) and that everyone else is copying you now should NOT be your marketing pitch. In fact, if you tell me that you came up with an idea first and then everyone else jumped on the bandwagon later, it actually makes me want to look to your competitors. Since they have the advantage of having seen what you did right and wrong, and were able to craft their solutions afterwards – what’s to say that theirs aren’t better? First to market does NOT necessarily mean best.
Just because you were first to market doesn’t mean you’re not the best either – I’m just saying that to me, that fact is irrelevant.
I’ve been accused of being biased to particular technology companies, but that’s not actually the truth. I’m biased to technologies that make sense to me and solve real problems that I have or see in my customers’ environments. If my “A Game” technology (see link for Joe Onisick’s explanation in the context of Cisco UCS) competes with your product, it isn’t because I dislike your technology, it’s because for the problems I’m trying to solve, I prefer this one. Come out with something better, and I’ll look at it.
In my new role, I have the advantage of partnering with many different OEMs and selecting the right products to meet my customers’ needs. These needs are not always purely technical. But as a technical guy, I’m going to start with my “A Game” solution unless a customer requirement dictates something else, or something better technically comes along.
So this is my message to AMs, PMs, and anyone else that wants to convince me (and I’m very open to being convinced, I just have very high standards) to look at their technology: Do not lead with market share, time in the market, or that you invented a particular class of technology. Tell me what you do that’s innovative, solves my customers’ problems, and does it better/faster/cheaper than your competitors. THAT is what I care about.