Friday, December 16, 2005

I Love Competition

Back when I was with Microsoft I was in a meeting with a guy named Jim Allchin. When the meeting broke up he and I were talking and I made some reference to Netscape. Jim slapped the table and said, "I love those guys. I love having competition. It keeps us focused." That's always stuck with me.

I love competition.

We're part of a nascent market. We have a couple guys starting to come into the space. One of them has some very cool features they are just talking about. We've looked at them and found some gaps that we need to fill to stay ahead. And one of our guys went out yesterday and built a widget that'll allow us to do just that.

So you're reading this thinking "yeah, so? what wouldn't he do that?" It's a long story best told over beers, but the summary is that it's not necessarily part of our culture for a business guy to program a widget and pass it to development. But having a competitor stir things up changes your attitude.

That's not to say you plan products and make business decisions around or in response to your competitor's moves. But you do need to think hard about the smart things they are doing for customers and work like hell to leapfrog them. Honestly we've built a damn good product. But we were getting a little complacent because we had nobody pushing us for the hearts and minds of the customer. Now we do. That'll lead to more fire. Which will lead to more cool stuff happening like this widget being developed. And that in turn will be how we win.

It's an encouraging sign.

1 comment:

  1. You're right. If you're working in a space where there is no competition, that is a very bad sign. In the Netherlands, they keep talking about the unique Dutch broadcasting system. If it was such a good idea, why is it still unique 80 years later. Roll on competition any day.