We are undeniably creatures of habit, who find comfort in familiar faces and places. Yet in an ocean of what is ordinary, we tirelessly seek the unusual. What is extraordinary is also remarkable. The origin of a message worth sharing with friends and associates is a new trend or anomaly. Like children in a school yard shouting Look Here! at a passing butterfly, we proudly convey our recognition of anything out of the ordinary.
Fortunes are made by imagining and supplying the extraordinary
Investors make their returns on contrarian market plays. Business builders make their livings by creating and delivering products that stand out and demand consumer attention. Designers risk creating products worth adoring or incur consumer apathy.
Unusual doesn't translate to alien. As consumers we like what is different, but still classifiable as an existing type of thing. Steve Blank discusses a detailed example of resegmenting existing markets.
Opportunities pass by because we default to the usual
I'll call out just a few of the dominant trends in web tech today.
- The Web Itself: http, documents, persistence, URL shortners, analytics
- Social web: Facebook & apps, social games, web identity, social graphs
- News: Feed readers, Twitter, personalized news, My6sense, Equentia
- Video: social video, content streaming, networks, premium channels
- Recommendation Engines: products, news, sites, information. Amazon, Hunch, My6sense, Facebook, Twitter, Google Search all play in this heated area
- Location: check-ins, geo-fencing
- Search: social, niche, real time
- Augmented Reality: mobile apps, computer vision, games
- Databases: relational and nosql variants (mongo, couch, redis)
If you're actively working on products in any of the above areas, you're going to find it hard to stand out from competition. What's unusual and remarkable about your offering? What growing slice of the market are you targeting?
Being lumped into a category is probably a good thing for a novel product, but failing to stand out is the fast road to commoditization and the startup kiss of death.