Myth: It always pays to be first in the race for "innovation"
The Truth: Following a beaten path might cost more
Only pioneers count, the others are just followers.
This aphorism sums up a general truth. The first to invent something is always the one to be remembered, like the Wright brothers. But recognition and a place in the collective consciousness as a pioneer is not always synonymous with economic success.
It might be true if we are talking about a patented and overwhelmingly potent drug. But it's a very different game for everyday products.
Sure, everything was different before. The creator of a novel product enjoyed a monopoly and an industry in itself for years. Followers, if any, followed years later when the first mover had already consolidated its position in the market.
Recently, however, the first mover advantage is waning. This is because the time between a novelty and a follow-up competition is getting shorter and shorter, thanks to the rapid technological progress of the past century.
According to a study by the IHS advisory group, the average time span between the introduction of a new type of product and the subsequent competition has shrunk from 33 years to 3.4 years over the past few decades. As a result, first movers do not find enough time to monopolize the market or even gain a significant share of market loyalty to hold their own against an influx of competitors.
Followers, on the other hand, will find the time to study a product and the corresponding market, identify loopholes and create a better product, or simply outsmart the pioneer in marketing.
And Google is a case in point. It came, saw what Yahoo was doing, and took the market.
First-time suppliers can only use this status if the trailers are held up prematurely due to a lack of resources, if this is associated with significant costs for the change of customer or if the new product is simply difficult to imitate.