“Your success is your worst enemy.”
Your success is delicious. Others look at your success and think, “Well, duh, it’s so obvious what they did there – anyone can do that” and, frustratingly so, they’re right. Your success has given others a blueprint for what success looks like, and while, yes, the devil’s in the details, you have performed a lot of initial legwork for your competition in the process of becoming successful.
More bad news via metaphors. Your enticing success has your competition chasing you, and that means that, by definition, that they need to run harder and faster than you so they can catch up. Yes, many potential competitors are going to bungle the execution and vanish before they pose a legitimate threat but there’s a chance someone will catch up, and when they do, what’s their velocity? Faster than yours.
As sucky as it is to watch HP copy the design of the iMac, and Samsung copy the design of the iPhone and iOS (and their retail stores and their dock connectors and everything else) and Jeff Bezos copy Steve Jobs’ presentation style to introduce the new Kindles (last year and this year)—none of these companies will be able to create anything better by copying.
Things get interesting once you leave the copying phase and start mutating ideas to fit your vision. All of these companies copying Apple are acting like me in design school, when I imitated my favorite painters and sculptors and designers while I developed my own artistic vision.
The problem with Apple’s competitors is most of them seem to have no interest in developing their own vision and that is unfortunate because we could have a much more diverse and creative spectrum of technology products on the market right now.