Google’s and Apple’s Collateral Damage

Google recently introduced its version of a smart phone; Apple, along with Microsoft/HP, is announcing “tablet” devices.  These product announcements are getting a lot of press, airtime on the evening news, and are providing fodder for multiple bloggers.

These announcements cause collateral damage.   Pity the poor product managers and product marketing managers whose management expects similar news and coverage relating to their new product introductions. They are almost doomed before they start.

What recourse do the PMs have and how do they go about setting the right expectation of management?  The astute PM can employ three tactics:

  • First, acknowledge what everyone is talking about, and compare it with their efforts.  For example, communicate that Google has spent X dollars on development, or that Google is partnering with T-Mobile and planning to spend Y dollars on promotion, and then compare these values to the resources allocated to his/her introduction.
  • Highlight (again) the positive features/advantages/benefits of their new product; the differences from competition, and the expectations of the introduction; be it increased market share, improved margin, greater revenue, etc.
  • Paint the forecast for new product introductions against the economic background of 2010, i.e., emphasize that no-one is sure where the economy is going. “Flat” may be good. Taking market share from competitors is a winning strategy when segment growth is flat, and so on.

Fascination with the next new widget has been known since the start of the industrial revelation, if not before.  Having gone through a difficult year, starting 2010 with bright shinny devices (that seem to be more evolutionary than revolutionary) creates undo expectations for everyone, except for Google and Apple.  Yet everyone else’s new product introduction may prove to be stronger and longer lasting than these new toys.  The PM, who casts his /her new product in the appropriate light, who executes well and meets his/her goals can have a more meaningful and successful product introduction than the products with all the hype and glitter.

Is your new product introduction properly positioned with your management, or is management asking you to match Google and Apple?

RHM  1/7/2009

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