Not too many years ago I would buy a new computer every two or three years. My phone would be ready for replacement every two years right on my old phone’s two year birthday. I have a drawer filled with old phones.
But hardware and software upgrades and replacements don’t seem as urgent these days. I’m not feeling the same excitement about getting the next hot computer or smartphone. A cleaner shinier case is just not a good enough reason to spend the cash.
How about you? Have you been spending money on technology like you did years ago? Probably not.
Why do you think that might be?
It comes down to one thing… Innovation.
For computing technology that means faster, smaller, easier to use, and relatively lower priced. For some reason companies like Dell, Apple, Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard have forgotten how to innovate.
You don’t think so?…
Then why has HP’s stock been battered over the last year? It has gone from the $16 a share neighborhood to the $10 neighborhood for a one year 35% drop in value! Today’s HP earnings report was accompanied by management comments whining about slow PC an Printer sales. I wonder why?
And what about Apple? This formerly innovative company’s stock price has gone from around $111 to $96 over the last year? That’s over a 13% drop! This should be a growth stock, right? Apple’s stock price held up better during the 2008 stock market melt-down.
The fact is that people are holding onto their old iPhones, iPads, and Macs longer since there are few compelling reasons to pay for something Apple calls “New”. The last iPhone upgrade was a great example of this lack of innovation. What was really new in that last upgrade?
Tech stock weakness has set in because these big tech companies have forgotten how to innovate. Maybe an army of accountants have taken over and pushed out the engineers, designers, and dreamers.
In the past, a new PC or laptop would at least double the speed of your older computer. Every two years there would be countless new cell phone features and it would be blazingly faster. New versions of Microsoft Office would be packed with useful new features and maybe even a little faster and easier to use.
We all had to upgrade! And we felt we received our money’s worth.
I have heard some people say that Apple has stopped innovating because Steve Jobs is gone. Then what’s the excuse for the lack of innovation at Dell Computer? Michael Dell is running the company and since he took the company private he doesn’t have Wall Street task masters to answer to. Mr. Dell can do what he wants. But he can’t seem to make a faster, cheaper, cooler computer for me?
This lack of real innovation is putting the entire tech sector into a terrible fog. It has been difficult for these tech companies to increase revenues so the only way to improve their bottom line is with cost cutting. Which means they are spending more time counting beans and less time on real innovation.
These companies may have painted their selves into a dangerous corner…. A corner that may give and unfair advantage to passionate risk-takers and fearless dreamers.
Could that be you?
What does this mean for the real innovators? Those scrappy engineers and designers who lust for new, fast, sleek, simple, and the most elegant may see their day in the sun.
If old line tech companies don’t start innovating and providing exciting products eventually someone else will fill the gap.
Right now people are sitting on a huge installed base of old Windows XP and Windows 7 computers. These users seem to be happy right now even though Microsoft has virtually abandoned Windows XP, their most solid operating system ever. They are temporarily happy because nothing on the market has shown them a good reason to upgrade.
I’ve tried Windows 10 and it feels solid but complicated. Windows 7 is doing a fine job for me right now. But as soon as Dell puts out a computer twice as fast as the one I am using I will upgrade. I’m itching to spend the money.
We’ve seen this innovation drought before and it doesn’t end well for the companies who do not innovate. Remember Research In Motion? And back in the 1990s there were several PC manufacturers that disappeared when they stopped innovating. Without significant technology improvements they were forced to compete by lowering prices. Those companies are all gone now.
What’s the message here for startups? When the big guys stop innovating… This is what real opportunity looks like.
Maybe it’s time to start a company than CAN innovate. One that is not afraid of taking risks, making mistakes, and stumbling onto what could be the next big thing…
I like to think that right now in some basement, garage, or windowless backroom a dedicated team of innovators is exploring something to delight us in all new ways.
If that’s you then you are probably in the right place at the right time.
I’m ready to buy your new product and millions of other people will be right behind me.