An analogy adds substance

The other day I was listening to Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose where he drew great analogies between a digital camera on cellphone and e-book reader on cellphone followed by an even more interesting one between cloud computing and electricity. The first one was to compare how an e-book reader on cell phone will affect Kindle’s market. Bezos compared e-book reading to photography. His argument was that people won’t trade a feature-rich digital camera specifically for photography with a simple digital camera on mobile phone, but they still like to have a camera on their mobile to take some pictures at places they don’t carry their digital camera. Similarly, they won’t trade a Kindle with e-book reader on cellphone, but would love to have some reading device on their cellphone for quick catch-up reading. This argument make so much more sense, and speaks volumes about Kindle’s market positioning, with the help of a comparison with something that is already happening out there today.

Another analogy he drew was while explaining the future of cloud computing. Bezos explained it by drawing a straight comparison between cloud computing and electricity. About a century back companies had their own electricity generator plants but as electric grids matured they abandoned their own electricity generation with pay-as-you-use model on electric grid. This helped them save costs and focus on their core expertise and service to their customers without worrying about how to get electricity to support their plants. Similarly letting companies that are expert in running data centers take care of your computing infrastructure and let you focus on your core expertise is what cloud computing’s selling proposition. A simple analogy from a century ago to explain the future!

I believe nothing adds more substance to an argument than a properly drawn analogy. It is like a proof to an argument which makes your pitch more believable and give people an authentic reason (or can we say, an alibi) to buy your argument.

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