Apple has proved it numerous times, but there are still peoplewho believe that if “it” works, and it sells, then it is sufficient.
Enterprise software products primarily were ahead of time, as in they solved one BIG technology problem that such customers were facing. It is like the local trains in Mumbai — they run on time all the time, and solves users biggest commute problem; so they dont care if everything else connected to the journey is raw, bad, or messy.
When two products come into the market with the same features solving the same BIG problem, that’s where the troubles begin. Because you are an early mover you get the advantage. But new customers might want to try something that is more productive and usable. Enterprise customers behave differently than consumers, but that “might” is a strong unseen element. When it hits real, many mighty #1 players have fallen.
I have worked in a company that had a 70% global market share and got too cushioned to move into adjacent markets only to fall down to a 5% market in 3 years, and shut shop later.
What do these succesful companies do? You look for new markets (adjacent or otherwise) with the same stuff, or make your stuff better so that you automatically becomes first choice in adjacent markets. The question that product management face all the time is how to make this better — add the missing or new features, or clean up the mess in the old ones, or both.
For the seemingly impossible scenario above, one needs to have the vision and patience to do it. And good design is a key element there. Coming back to the iPod: the technology — hdd, software, controls existed, so did others who played music, but it is the easy and most probable controls and making a legal music store – the overall user experience – that made it a hit.
Yes, technology innovation is very important and cool, but product innovations arent any different. In the end, the glory is the same, especially when the coffers are brimming with gold!
Good design is good business. Amen.