Great Innovations Fail due to Ecosystems? No. Chasms

Ever wonder why some new products gain market acceptance much slower than others? Or why products that are clearly breakthrough never seem to take off to the level they can clearly attain? The reason? It’s not vision, it’s not quality, it is as simple as design acceptance. Acceptance based on specific financial involvement. Because good products are everywhere, but great products take a lot more investment plain and simple and it isn’t ecosystem involvement.

Recently an article called Why Great Innovations Fail: It’s All in the Ecosystem attempted to describe, based on the book The Wide Lens by Ron Adner, the some of the reasons why “Innovations” many of which are clearly NPD launches, failed, or at the least were difficult adoptions. Examples included, Michelin’s tires with internal sensors that cost the typical garage 70K in equipment just to repair. Yes, 10’s of thousands of dollars investment needed to fix a subset of high end users tires. More we have Digital Cinema requiring your local theater to invest 70K per screen and of course Amazon and their “conditions in the ecosystem that made joining the long-awaited e-book revolution a more attractive proposition for publishers” better known as revenue sharing or at the worst predatory pricing to entice adoption. Is this all? No. Naturally we are then lead to the mother of all “innovations” – Apple’s iPod where DRM and the deals with all the major record labels because of the DRM is ignored – THE key to why the iPod took off. Somehow the security of the encryption and DRM software, code, that links purchases to devices, THE reason why the entire iPod “ecosystem” exists, how it was designed, how the laws were changed to allow for this, etc., are left off the table. The Key architectural design component that makes the entire “ecosystem” exist.

Oddly, you might guess, is this enough? To have an ecosystem? The advice: “It is no longer enough to manage your innovation. Now you must manage your innovation ecosystem,” which is what designers have known from the beginning. You don’t just design the object, you manufacture the object, you own the distribution, you serve the customer and you never rely on the bankers to determine success or failure.

This is what is communicated in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, and what we at iGNITIATE have focused on well before the iPod, Digital Cinema or Auto Fix tires hit the market and the reason is simple, innovation means breakthroughs, full market changing efforts, eg. the entire music distribution and delivery system of iTunes as launched right along with the earliest versions of iTunes. When the whole ecosystem is prepared from day 1, great “innovations” are much more likely to turn into profitable NPD endeavors.

For more, visit our other examples, and successes at

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