A Very Touchy Subject – final entry

To say everything is changing at breakneck speed would be an understatement. Not only have the products, their cycles, finance, markets, fads, heroes, and more changed. It’s also the driving forces behind them that has also changed.

For some of us what we might think (or once thought) were drivers have been replaced almost as quick as the changes in the products themselves. And that is the reason why I truly started down this path with p–n being my first example. Just the mention of the word gets the attention of many. (or most)

Being an entrepreneur of any stripe whether you own your business or just working and living through the vantage of an entrepreneurial mindset. One thing is certain: You just can’t look at the world of business or its drivers through the same lens as the masses. It’s inherent upon you to not only envision what’s moving or pushing a market. It’s just as important to what will sustain a market. Any market. Buttressed with; is what everyone thinks is “the market” actually “the market?”

The vast majority of people (or consumers) believe they have a pretty good handle on what is driving any product or service at any moment in its cycle. Primarily it revolves around the notion that “they” are the driver. Anyone serious about understanding markets (all markets) knows the last person who understands what’s driving a market is the very customer themselves. That’s why people like Steve Jobs stood out as a visionary. They understand this at the gut level.

They’ll assume this, that, or the other thing when in effect it’s only on par with grasping at straws. However, the very reason this understanding is so important is this: “They” are nearly every single person you’ll ever meet, hang out with, work for, or marry.

Remembering that its solely up to you to look for answers even in the least likely of places is again imperative for any entrepreneur.

So why is this topic so damned important? Well here’s a few last points to ponder that hopefully rounds this all out.

In part one I opened the discussion up about Google® and the implications of its new policy concerning p–n. And why does this matter? What’s the driver? Is it a preemptive change for fear of future government edicts? Censorship? Or could the rationality be a marketing ploy as to out maneuver Apple® in its dominant stance against p–n. And why would something like that even matter?

I’m using Apple as an example only because it entails so much of what I’m trying to express. (Not because I believe or want the examples pursued)

Forget Apples stock price. For all intents and purposes Apples last quarter results were not amazing. They were staggering. However for this discussion I want to zoom in on just 2 things that far too many gave not a hint of interest.

Remember that foolish product met with snickers? The Mini™. Well it sold so well they couldn’t produce enough to satisfy orders. You would think they would take a lesson from Microsoft and produce enough – but not sell enough to even create a buzz. Let alone be witness to one actually being used by someone in real life. Except for product placement on television; I have yet to witness someone using one as of this writing.

Another amazing factoid is the blowout sales numbers of the iPad (another product met with snickers) and those very sales were dominated by people 50+. You know what the over 50+ crowd does that the under 45 crowd rarely does? They BUY things.

Yes, they actually purchase rather than looking high, low, or anywhere else as a way to get it for free. So if you think Apple; you think of people who spend actual money. If you think Google; you think people who want it free first – if not free only. And there lies the crux.

Sure Google has search and yes they have the Android®. However, unless you’re Google or Android versed; navigating is not only laborious – its pathetic. (sorry not trying to be insulting I’m just stating my opinion as a former everything PC user) You feel like you need to be a computer programmer to use it properly.

Personally I was a PC person all my adult life. Both in personal use as well as business and could navigate issues pretty well when they occurred. (which was far too often) So when my mother-in law asked me to help her with what seemed as a simple issue she was having on her Android phone I said “sure no problem.”

What a freaking headache I acquired. In the end she needed to go to the store where she purchased it as to get the settings to work properly. (It was with her mail – I mean – MAIL!) Neither of us could figure out what or why it wouldn’t sync properly. This is not supposed to be rocket science. All she kept asking my wife was: “Did you have this issue with your Apple?” Her answer: “No.” You could feel her frustration knowing she couldn’t use her new gizmo. (Her younger son recommended it over my suggestion. Oh well…)

So, if iPads are shaping up to be the dominant PC replacement for the 50+ segment. And, this segment not only has more money to spend – and a willingness to spend it. What changes if any could possibly transform a market in ways we may not be aware of currently? Could television alone move beyond what we now know into something far different?  (not withstanding the breathless anticipation of “analysts” hopes and dreams for anything Apple into this marketplace)

Remember, this segment has more money – there’s more of them – and, they are willing to PAY for something if it’s something they want. If you think I’m using hyperbole here just look at what is being heralded as a coup in the television marketplace with Amazon® acquiring the rights to the current blockbuster television series Downton Abbey. Welcome valued – I mean “Prime™” customers!

They also know what they don’t want. They don’t want p–n being thrown in their faces when they’re not expecting it. And Apple has kept a vigilant stance from allowing it to seep into its ecosystem. (Here’s a link to an article on Pandodaily™ by Nathaniel Mott for some context)

So here’s a market changing mother of an impact statement any entrepreneur should always have ready to ask and answer if they’re serious about business:

  • You want one customer that will spend $100 a year with you? Or 1000 that wont part with a nickel and will leave you even quicker if you dare charge even a penny for what ever your offering is?

That question alone is not only worth contemplating; it’s the only question that will matter in the coming future.

Yes Google has search, but here’s what I say: So what?

They are the dominant player currently however, you don’t need to buy – go out and rent, purchase, or anything to replace it. If Google said tomorrow we’re turning off our servers or, going to now charge some form of an access fee (this is a thought experiment so save the emails saying they couldn’t) what would you do?

Oh yeah; click on Bing®.

I hope you’re starting to see my point. And, if it’s that easy for something so profound as what Google did to the Yellow Pages® in such short order. Why couldn’t a shift of millions upon millions of users find Google itself irrelevant because on their iPad, as their using it to control their TV’s; Bing comes up first? Not Google. Just think about that for a few moments along with all its possible implications down the chain. We’re not talking anything small here.

Does it matter anymore what engine you’re using? Oh, and by the way – doesn’t Microsoft® have more of a ventured stake in Apple than it does with anything Google? Again, what happens if Microsoft implements more Apple into its user face of products and services rather than trying to fix the now shaky (or possible disaster) Surface®? If Microsoft is using its excess reserves in ways to create revenue other than in-house development. (They’re acting as a bank in the Dell® going private deal.) Who’s to say they don’t deploy other monies in concert with Apple as to acquire other markets unknown or unforeseen in ways we look at today?

Could Google end up in the end only being a verb of its former self? Again – who knows, but one has to think about implications that the masses don’t. Remember, iPad’s are still selling by the MILLIONS and to whom is the dominant buyer?

That’s why I started this conversation. That’s what an entrepreneur does. To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky: “It’s anticipating where the puck will go – not just where it is.”

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr