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By slehavi
via shukilehavi.blogspot.com
Published: May 07 2007 / 03:43

Yes, I dare say – competition is a myth, a lie, an urban legend. If your job description demands innovation (e.g. a developer, a manager, a CEO) and you have spent even one hour looking at the ‘competition’ I deem you lazy, immature and irresponsible. If you think that I forgot to take my pills (again), I promise that in three paragraphs from now, you will smack your forehead and say ‘this shouting monkey has a point!’ Ready? Here we go....
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slehavi replied ago:

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Please review and comment

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bloid replied ago:

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It's a little hard to read, and IMHO a bit harsh... It is always worth looking at the competition, if for no other reason than to see if there is something obvious you have missed...

I agree, design for the user, not against the competition, but to call looking at the competition "immature or irresponsible" is -- again in my opinion -- both immature and irresponsible...

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slehavi replied ago:

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Thank you for your comment bloid. Yes, it is a harsh piece and even aggressive, as I am quite passionate about this topic. I believe that one of my duties is to create a meaningful product. As such, I have to be a promoter of creativity and innovation within my company, and allocate my resources to productive channels. If you are true to efficient resource allocation, you surely can’t devote any moment to looking over your shoulder.
Moreover, knowing your product and your market can make a competitor turn into a great business partner. I will be able to disclose a great example in a few weeks time. You will see that by understanding our niche we are able to team with that specific member to create a great service.

Thanks,

Shuki

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bloid replied ago:

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>> knowing your product and your market can make a competitor turn into a great business partner.

I completely agree!!

And I look forward to the example :-)

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slehavi replied ago:

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wish I could say more :-)

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hates_ replied ago:

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Looking at your competitors can actually be a good route to innovation. "Hey Bob, company X is doing this feature this way... Imagine instead we extended it to do something like Y, that would be totally awesome don't you think?", "Gee Josh, that's friggin' brilliant!", cue high-five moment.

Just look at some of the most successful companies on earth. Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc... All of their products can be traced back to others. They took the working foundations of someone else's ideas and evolved them into something better.

Your competition is what drives you to be better. If you enter a 100m race on your own, you'll just take your time. Bring in 5 competitors and you'll be running for your life. Just look at team sports. You don't beat a great team by focusing on your own performance. You study their performance and plan your attack to exploit their weaknesses.

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bloid replied ago:

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Nice post hates_ :-)

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NoLiveTv replied ago:

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Businesses that were initially successful but that didn't keep up with the competition, and all which could have answered the Shuki's questions with "here's why the customers will buy our products":
Buggytwhips
Passenger train transportation
Betamax
Apple computers

And who can deny that competition has forced Microsoft to update Internet Explorer...it languished almost untouched during the period between Netscape's viability and Firefox?

I agree with the concept that people should buy your product because it helps them solve a problem, but people are not going to buy the first thing they see that does...at least not those who have to present the business case to a competent CEO. They will need to do a market analysis to see what's out there and why a particular product fills the gap better than others. If you don't have the checkmarks in as many columns as your competition, you will lose business.

Adding innovation--as well as "answering the mail"--will be what sets you apart.

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slehavi replied ago:

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Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and reply.
As for hates’ comments, your example is exactly what I am talking about. In your example, Bob and Josh are asking HOW the other product works “company X is doing this feature this way...” and not WHY, or WHY should the end user buy product X.
Hey Bill Gates, Sony is doing a gaming console, let’s extend it to a three processor gaming console – high-five moment? Not really! Because 10 minutes later, a smaller company comes up with a Nintendo Wii and they know exactly WHY people play games! They create a product that answers the specific need of their clients (Mii, group play, karaoke style gaming etc.)

So to bounce of NoLiveTV’s example and yours. Microsoft is doing well DESPITE of their products and not THANKS to their products. When was the last time you camped outside your CompUSA store waiting for the next MS Office patch to be released?!

IMHO – a startup (and really any project) should focus on creating something new. I know, this is annoying and challenging but very rewarding if/ when you succeed. I would not want to wake up in the morning, brush my teeth and go clone someone else’s product. But that’s only me :-)

Have a great day and thank you again for your comments.

Shuki

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bloid replied ago:

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I think this is another area where the answer is not A or B, but a subtle blend of the two...

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