Toys of Today

Scott Francis
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Chris Dixon recently wrote that the next big thing will start out looking like a toy.  No, he’s not presaging the rise of toys as the next trend in retail or tech (although, with 100,000 Apps on the App store and 3billion downloads, one could be forgiven for assuming that that would be his point). Chris is pointing out that the next big thing often starts out looking like a toy because one cannot accurately predict how something simple will behave when it achieves network effects due to scale.  And this is why incumbents often don’t identify the next big thing very quickly – because they dismiss it as a toy (at first).  In fact, I’d say they often go through a few stages of denial:
  1. It is just a toy, not worth wasting time on
  2. It will only work for a certain niche
  3. It will never scale
  4. It will never work for enterprise customers (or, it will only work for well-heeled consumers)
  5. It will never solve the really high end problems
  6. Buy a competing product, or buy the original
I’m sure someone could come up with a better list than mine, however.

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