from startups weeks old to (at least once) public behemoths, it’s remarkable how often companies fight how their customers view them with who they aspire to be. regardless of how much users value parts or pieces of their business, companies routinely miss their true calling.
i’ve both witnessed and worked for these companies, and it’s often the pieces of a company that are deemed valueless that in hindsight are bigger opportunities than that which the company hoped to conquer.
when i worked at world poker tour, management was thinking about being the super bowl of poker in a television-centric world, all the while millions of people were rabidly playing our free poker game. it seemed silly that so many players cared about fake chips, at least until zynga came along.
blackberry was similar. while it struggled to figure out how to build a phone without a physical keyboard, it ignored the messaging network and community that it had built. last decade, i certainly was not alone in buying blackberries for its messenger app. in a world of whatsapp and wechat, it’s crazy how they ignored the potential of messaging, choosing instead to battle on hardware.
fitbit is in the midst of making this same mistake. they are ignoring the community of fans that love their app and community, but have moved beyond their hardware. if only fitbit would realize that they build a) the world’s best alarm clock and b) step tracking software people would pay for. this continues to be the most obvious short in the market today.
now apple is promoting itself as a services company. it doesn’t matter what they tell themselves. investors and consumer will decide for themselves. perhaps more interesting are companies like disqus which are finally starting to execute on how consumers view them and what they want from them.
as i build products, this is one of the most important things i think about. the other is thinking about the user flow (what were they doing before using my product and what will they do after), but i’ll save that for another post :)