Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pioneers and Arrows of Outrageous Fortunes

There's an old saying that you can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back. If the arrows had been in his front, you'd think the pioneer had taken risks and suffered the consequences.  Arrows in the back, however, can only mean one thing: friendly fire. The pioneers have taken a beating at the hands of their own followers.

Think about it.  How many of these products have you heard of?  Used?  Owned?
  • Xerox Star
  • Visicalc
  • WAIS
  • pen PC
  • AudioHighway Listen Up
  • WebCrawler

On the other hand, how familiar are these?
  • Apple Macintosh
  • Microsoft Excel
  • World Wide Web
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPod
  • Google

Each of these household words is really just a later version of some earlier product that's now extinct. Why have these derivative products and technologies had such a lasting effect, when the true originals disappeared? Did the imitators offer some vital improvement?  Did they just do a better job of marketing?  Did the public need time to assimilate the idea?  Who knows?  There's really only one lesson we can definitely take away from this...

Don't be a leader.

2 comments:

nmHz / Rhu said...

I still have the yearbook I helped edit/publish on a Xerox Star. But then, I'm weird that way.

Peter Davis said...

Was that a nursery school yearbook, by any chance?