Skip to main content

Yet more proof that we all suck at predicting product success

Yet more proof that the Sony-promoted Blu-ray format is winning over HD-DVD.

I love seeing stuff like this, mainly because how wrong it proves "consensus." When the DVD format wars started a few years ago, almost everyone I knew was so confident while saying that Sony was going to lose this war, and that Blu-ray was Betamax repeated.

I didn't know enough about the area to have a strong opinion one way or the other, but figured that all the blogs, magazines, B-School case studies, etc. couldn't be wrong.

But as a friend of mine recently said, "....ecosystems are so complicated, value-chains so complex and different companies execute at such different level and with so much variance that its stupid to be confident in your predictions."

I mean even up to a 4 years ago, I heard enough people say: "Its stupid to try to make money from web applications with advertising as the only strategy." Yeah! :)


Isaac said…
I know this is orthogonal to your actual point, but...

I think think that there wasn't for long a question that effectively monetizing "people searching for something" was possible. It was (no?) one of the very first seriously profitable internet businesses. But at least during *my* experience of the internet boom, the prevailing exuberant belief of the time was that "monetizing eyeballs" was the easy bit---after building the killer app to win all those eyeballs in the first place. It's really that model which turned out to be impossible at the time: and to this day remains a struggle.

Compare display ad CPMs and search ad CPMs. There's your problem right there.

Popular posts from this blog

Measure f-ing everything, and assume f-ing nothing!! - Or how mentoring ruined lives :-(

I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.

I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.

It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.

Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)

It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…