James Gardner's book is a fascinating, but at times depressing, take on the Darwinian history and realities of innovation, product adoption and the ability (and inability) to make money. Gardner argues that true innovation (that is something that is new, first on the scene, never before done-*take note blog writers and conference speakers) rarely makes money. Instead, usually, a younger, faster, nimbler company copies an idea, incorporates a 'sidestep' or a 'twist'(such as exploiting a new and more lucrative customer base, based on location; making the customer interface less complex, or embedding functions that encourages more users)and then reaps most of the spoils from the initial innovation.
The book also highlights some of the challenges large(and not so large) companies have in incorporating some of these 'sidesteps and twists' in regards to innovation. Some of these same challenges seemed very familiar to me and my company only has seven people in it.
I think James' honest view of the world is more true than people wish to believe. I've been reading this morning about Google's struggles with Google Wallet (you know, the mobile payments initiative that was supposed to have every bank shaking in its boots?) Basically the lesson of the book is that there are products and then there are products that a lot of people use(buy)and then there are products that a lot of people use for a long period of time. That road is filled with a lot of side steps and twists.
Depressing stuff for those of you who leave the house every day to create the new and the cool, hoping that is enough to set the world on fire. James' warnings could send everyone back to the warmth of a duvet and Radio 4.
(I, for one, have started work on my first novel - a tender story of a teenage vampire investigating grisly sex crimes in Nordic countries all while keeping up with his studies at a supernatural boarding school. It will be called 'Night blood - the vampire with too much time on his hands'-expect the movie out in 2016.)