Last Word: Copying Done Right
via Ben Thompson, Stratechery.com
The first mistake most incumbents make when building new products in response to threatening new competitors is to attempt to win on features. To return to the phone example, Nokia and Microsoft tried to build something distinctly different from the iPhone, with a completely different user interface, features like Live Tiles, and various content hubs. The effort earned plenty of plaudits from the press and pundits eager for something new, but in practice made it far more difficult to secure the apps that actually mattered for becoming a viable platform.
A more pertinent example for this article is Google+. When Google launched their Facebook competitor in 2011 they touted features like Circles to organize your friends, Sparks to find content to share, and Hangouts to video chat. These made Google+ “better” and “differentiated”, which is another way of saying more complicated; meanwhile the most important feature — your friends — was nowhere to be found.
The problem with focusing on features as a means of differentiation is that nothing happens in a vacuum: category-defining products by definition get a lot of the user experience right from the beginning, and the parts that aren’t perfect — like Facebook’s sharing settings or the iPhone’s icon-based UI — become the standard anyways simply because everyone gets used to them.
So good for Instagram: Snapchat’s Stories is a great product that has already gone through years of iterations; why, but for pride, would you build something different?
See more of the issue here.