Wednesday, July 05, 2006

One Man's Flop Is Another Man's Killer App

Sometimes a killer application is introduced too early with the wrong packaging for people to get "it".

BusinessWeek's cover story called Eureka, we failed has some insights on how businesses are handling their approach to innovation.

I find it interesting they highlight one of the first attempts to physical world connection as a flop.

For good measure, we'll throw in our own industry's spectacularly useless flop: the CueCat. A marketer's dream, the device, which was launched in 2000 (when else?), scanned bar codes from magazine and newspaper ads, directing readers to Web sites so they wouldn't have to go to the trouble to type in the URL.

While the device may have been a bad idea, the concept of connecting the physical world to electronic one is now being pursued by the biggest Internet players. The clunky piece of plastic shaped like a cat, has been replaced by over 2 billion devices that people carry with them every day.

Hardly a flop in my opinion.


Anonymous said...

The concept is not a flop but the type of device was. Now that we have the right device, this thing will be bigger than what Google did for their ads.


Anonymous said...

I remember at the time CueCat came out posting on internet boards that, even though the CueCat was a bomb, the concept was important, because it was critical to the use of mobile devices, for which "typing in a URL" is no trivial matter, even when the URL is small. In fact, of course, even typing in a very long URL, typical of deeply embedded pages (such as a URL relevant to a specific transaction or physical item) is no small inconvenience, even at a desktop.

Of course, the whole idea was laughed off at the time. But I predict that not only will PWH become critical for mobile devices, because input is so very excruciating for them, but also will come back to be used extensively even for desktop applications, once the idea has been launched. The key thing here is to get beyond the chicken-and-the-egg problem. When enough things are encoded in PWHs, people are going to wonder how they ever did without it, just as now they look at the command line interface, with all its typewritten input, as quaint, even though there was for a long time serious doubt amongst techies about whether the GUI was really a step forward rather than back.

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to have one for my product collection. Where are these things?

BTW. Remember the buzz around motorola's and symbol's 500 billion investment in Airclic.

The concept was one of the things that really made sense in those days and it still does. Multichannel thinking