I've got a simple rule I apply to suss out success for a new product (modestly, I call it Louderback's Rule). It states that any new product must offer at least two dimensions of improvement over what it's trying to replace - without losing anything in the process. Why has the camera phone been such a success? First, it's a phone with a camera - that's one. But the second dimension - easy upload and communication of pictures -ensured the runaway success of the camera phone. Without the communications, the camera would be useless.
Oh, I should note the corollary to Louderback's Rule: beware the cow-path. Just as cows follow each other, creating well-defined trails through a pasture, I'm especially leery of new products that layer a shiny high-tech patina on a low-tech process. Remember the electric pasta maker? Turns out buying pasta in the store is actually easier. Or the bread machine? How many people really want to make their own bread?
My grandmother, who knew a thing or two about pasta, had one of those low-tech pasta makers back in the day. She did all the hard work, mixing together the ingredients to make the pasta dough, then she stuffed it into the pasta maker, turned the hand crank, and presto! Strands of fettucine would come out. It worked kinda like a manually-powered paper shredder. I don't remember if it could be adjusted to give you noodles of different widths. Not that it mattered to me, since fettucine alfredo was my favoritest dish ever as a kid.
As for the Louderback Loser List, I'm sorry to hear that the Dick Tracyesque SPOT watches probably won't cut it. It'd be just the thing to go with my Blackberry, cell phone, and pager. I can't help but feel that if you're going to wear a Two-Way Wrist Radio, you really ought to have Headquarters somewhere. I mean, otherwise what's the point?Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 30, 2003 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack