Leader or Follower?

Are you competing on an even turf with your surrounding businesses?
Or are you leading the pack and making others follow you?

Are you a leader and an innovator, not afraid to fail?
Or do you wait until everyone else has “it” and then follow when “it” becomes standard?

I find it best to take things out of YOUR business by focusing on parallels, knowing that you are smart enough to apply the lessons to your own business.

Microsoft announced yesterday that there were getting in to the tablet business, not only creating a tablet – but a premium user experience utilizing Windows 8 Pro and RT. Are they following Google and Apple — a few years late — or going their separate way all together?

To understand where we are going, we need to understand where we’ve been and where we are.

Apple has created one of the most profitable companies by having a full ecosystem. While the Android clan is fighting over specs that only the technophile can understand, Apple is all about user experience, preferring to talk in numbers instead of digits — ie. A6 processor as opposed to Qualcomm Q4 QuadCore, etc. The screen is 100% about the user and Apple leads the pack here — utilizing screen technology that offers 4x the resolution of the competitors, even one year ago with the release of the iphone 4s. While the Android clan is still arguing over gigabytes, screen sizes, etc. they still haven’t understood the simplicity that is Apple’s ecosystem. Nothing compares.

Along comes Microsoft in potentially their boldest Windows-based move in the past decade — creating an ecosystem with Microsoft tablet leading the way. With the announcement yesterday, MS broke out of their cocoon and created something innovative. And while the pundits, myself included, take it with a grain of salt and a note of “prove it” — one cannot deny the move is bold. MS relies on licensing software – recently claims of $85/tablet – and selling software – mainly office.

Creating hardware is a new business and they hit a true home run with the architecture and ingenuity of this device. The RT is super thin and light — whereas the Pro is a little larger. But both have extra ports, expansion slots and the presentation focused on the user experience, not hardware specs. And adding to the usability is the cover that includes a keyboard and trackpad. Genius.

The fumble is yet to come and it’s two-fold.

MS said that pricing is between today’s tablets and ultrabooks. That puts it in the $600+ range. Regardless of the keyboard value (some suggest it would retail for $100 if sold separately), it has a cost that people cannot take as optional, which means they are paying more for it no matter how they look at it. If the price is in the $500+ area, then it’s Dead on Arrival.

MS has a long history of working with partners to deliver new operating systems and everyone from Dell to HP to Vizio has plans to develop tablets and ultrabooks for Windows 8. If the MS Tablet – Surface – has more features and is a better product for less then the partners can build on their own, they will jump ship. This may not be a bad thing, but it definitely will be an evolution in the PC industry as more and more companies are going mobile. The big question is how can they compete on price and value if they have to pay MS that $85/device licensing fee.

Business Applications:
How does all this MS / Apple / Google talk relate to your business?
When forging ahead in your business, are you walking over your partners — or taking them along with you?
Are you leading the pack or are you waiting for someone else to test the waters?

In most businesses, we tend to fall into what is the status quo and accept that as well, acceptable. The challenge is to step outside of the status quo and constantly challenge your co-workers to do the same. Shake things up — and make sure that along the way you are educating those around you of the risks you are taking to make sure they understand the risks to. It’s not easy being a leader, a game changer, an innovator — If it was – everyone would do it.


Todd Katcher
Digital Dealership System

c: 615.669.5244
twitter: @digitaldealers
web: www.digitaldealershipsystem.com
blog: www.fouronthefloorblog.com

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