First mover advantage (& disadvantage)

Most businesses are obsessed with being the first to do something or release a product. However, it’s been proven time and again throughout history that coming second or even later in the list can be an advantage as you improve on what came before you.

As Anil K. Gupta and Haiyan Wang remind us in Wired magazine (Feb 2012), it was ‘Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who first brought computing to the masses in 1977’ but it was IBM that did it bigger, better and cheaper so they could dominate the market for many years. Since then, Apple has obviously reinvented itself with a range of stunningly designed devices and their iPhone has been the dominant one on the market (at least in the Western world) since it’s launch in 2007. More recently though, Android has been widely tipped to overtake total sales due to the cheaper price and wider range of devices running on this system.

However, thanks to a highly successful Christmas 2011 and huge marketing budget in 2011/2012, people are finally starting to take notice of Windows Phone as a real and worthy competitor due to the beautiful design, functionality, fun and user experience which is making even the mighty iPhone start to look a little bit dated.

Nokia and Microsoft have had the time (and resources) to take what Apple have done, and improve on it to create something really special and unique – Windows Phone’s are not copies of iPhones, they’re a complete reimagining of what it means to have (your) world in your pocket)! As I’ve said many times before, I absolutely LOVE my Windows Phone (Samsung Omnia 7 by the way) and predict a hugely successful year for Nokia and Microsoft in 2012.

Back to the topic of why coming first isn’t everything. Who invented the ‘Moonwalk’? Michael Jackson I hear you say? Nope, it was Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar who can be seen doing it first on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in 1982 (see below), almost a year before Jackson did the move on the Motown: 25th Anniversary which grabbed a global audience and propelled him to international stardom. (He was a big fan of Daniels and hired him to teach him the move). ;o)

2 thoughts on “First mover advantage (& disadvantage)

  1. Steve Revill Reply

    Great post, Paul. I haven’t got around to reading my copy of Wired for Feb yet, but reading Steve Jobs’ biography at the moment and the scale of the issue you highlight came through in the sales figures, as covered in Isaacson’s book, where in 279,000 Apple IIs sold compared to 240,000 IBM PCs and clones in 1982. For 1983, 420,000 Apple II were sold versus 1.3M IBM PC and its clones.

    I can’t help but think the same is about to happen with many PC manufacturers launching Ultrabooks that will in time challenge the dominance of the macbook in terms of portability, battery life and design. These are certainly interesting times…

    1. Paul Lancaster Reply

      Thanks for reading Steve! Have you watched the Shalamar video? Amazing stuff. Just proves that no matter how good you are, the platform/exposure/marketing is what makes something a huge success (or not). Jackson’s legendary performance of ‘Billie Jean’ featuring his moonwalk was nominated for an Emmy and received heavy rotation on MTV, helping to break down some of the racial barriers in the US music industry at the time (see

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