When a playing field is young and growing, there are always many players trying to play in it. Every industry at the beginning attracts lots of companies. That is something that makes the industry interesting. You got to stay on your toes to keep innovating and be in the race. At the same time, that pollutes the industry a lot. It becomes very difficult for a company to differentiate from the others in this industry and for a customer to identify who is going to be around in the long run.
I believe three things determine if a company will be able to sustain and be successful in a new technology space. First is persistence. Persistence is the most important factor in determining how long can you stay in that industry. Do you have the horsepower and team that will stick together and keep out innovating competition? Second is differentiation. Differentiation is important because if you are one out of a dozen, then you are a commodity. Are you adding any real value to your customers out there? Then there is customer captivity. How easy is it for your customers to replace you with something else? Or in other words, will your customers miss you if you are no longer around tomorrow?
Products like Excel, PowerPoint and Word have been around in the market for decades because they have a captive customer base. They have a cycle of innovation where they keep bringing new features which help them differentiate from their competition. And to look back at the humble beginnings in late 1980s, they managed to be persistent in front of competition from a dozen or so other companies trying to develop products in the same space.
Persistence, differentiation and customer captivity are the three most important thing that can help a business make or break in any technology industry. If a company is able to persist, differentiate and innovate to keep meeting customer’s need, it will be able to standout in the short run and preempt new competitors in the long run.