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Talking technology just delays innovation

With a few notable exceptions (such as Apple) the fact is that technology doesn't really matter. What really matters, especially when you are targeting consumers, is application.

Sounds controversial? Let me explain what I mean. Look at the early days of movies - were you a Betamax or a VHS fan? What about the more recent Blu-Ray vs HD DVD war? And on the early PCs, there were many different companies trying to launch their own operating system to compete with many others on the market. Ditto for the early smart phones.

But look at where we are now - in each space it has come down to just one or two main players - very rarely are there three or more. And the reason is simple - it doesn't benefit consumers or the industry to be fighting about the technology. Instead the underlying technology needs to be agreed, so it is all interoperable and makes things easier for consumers, and then vendors can start to differentiate themselves with the service they actually offer to consumers. That is where the 'bells and whistles' come in, and where customers are won or lost.

Let's think about this in the payment card space. Imagine the headaches if we as an industry didn't all use one size credit card, or if Europay, MasterCard and Visa hadn't agreed on the EMV standard. We'd all have to spend so much time and money trying to work out how we work together when our products are so different, we couldn't afford to even think about new innovations or how best we serve the customer.

The same analogy must apply in the mobile world. At the moment it is a bit like a technology land grab, where everyone is trying to stake their claim, but we mustn't forget that what is delivered to consumers needs to be as interoperable, flexible and easy to use as possible. This means we must stop fighting over the technology and start delivering real benefits and convenience to consumers.

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Comments: (2)

Tom Hay
Tom Hay - Icon Solutions Ltd - London 26 January, 2012, 08:44Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Technology matters.  Advances in technology can deliver huge benefits to customers - far more than just the "bells and whistles" mentioned in the article.  Take the example of video formats and look at the bigger picture - VHS v Betamax was indeed a sterile contest, but the move from 8mm filmstock to magnetic media was massive.  Similarly with the move from magnetic to optical (Blu-Ray), and now from optical to digital delivery.  The early adopters of new technology during a paradigm shift can reap huge competitive benefits, to the point of displacing the previous market leaders.   Standards are important once a technology is established, but by that point there is no competitive advantage associated with the technology.  Clay Christensen explained briliantly in "The Innovator's Dilemma" why innovative technology disrupts, and often destroys, "successful companies carrying out sound business practices in established markets".  No wonder they resist innovations in technology.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 01 February, 2012, 11:52Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Of course the Technology matters!  If it didn't we'd still all be living in damp caves.  Life is about evolution and innovation in every thread.  

This isn't Science Fiction it is Science Fact!  The Industry is changing and it is time to keep up or fall by the wayside.

Underlining point: people do care about Technology.