Coming in second might be better for a brand

Better late than never for Sony?

We all know the benefits of first-mover advantage.

If you’ve watched Mission: Impossible 4, Amitabh Bachchan’s latest ICICI ad or are currently reading this article on your new tablet, you’ll understand when I say the iPad is everywhere! Currently, one of the most ubiquitous tablets in the world, the uniquely branded Apple, has dominated its market, making it very difficult for market followers like the Blackberry Playbook, Samsung’s Tablets or even Motorola’s Zoom.

 Which makes you wonder, “What exactly is Sony thinking”? The electronic giant recently launched its Tablet S and Tablet P in India, almost two years after the iPad. With no scope of network access beyond Wi-Fi, in either of its variants so far, does the late-entry Japanese juggernaut really think it stands a chance?

 This then, brings us to a largely overlooked concept of second-mover advantage. Everybody talks about the first company doing something, but it’s usually the second company, who’s studied the first-mover and managed to overtake them by avoiding a few eminent mistakes, that triumphs.

 Apple had first-mover advantage. So how did Microsoft win? It won by building a bigger ecosystem, by bringing more people and companies into its orbit. It let others build Windows PCs. It didn’t demand that everything stay under an ‘Apple’ banner.

The iPhone had first-mover advantage. But Apple’s policies were rigid. An iPhone user was tethered to only what was offered. But, by throwing open its app market to third party app makers and focusing on relaxing its own operation interface, Google’s Android surpassed it. The introduction of the iPhone 4S did not change the trends.

 The point is, while first-mover advantage can be overcome, second-mover advantage usually can’t be. That’s because the second-mover learns things in overcoming the first-mover, and grows the market so that the effort needed to overcome it is exponentially bigger than what it had to do itself.

 So, after taking it’s time to study the market, perhaps Sony’s lower pricing, refreshing new design and shape (wedge or clamshell) and DLNS technology – enabling the user to connect the tablet to other devices which are not necessarily Sony products;  might very well serve as key next-generation characteristics, helping the product to break into the market in a big way.


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