To Kill, or Not to Kill [Is it possible?]

Okay. We all know that you ARE working on the next big thing right now and gonna make a dent in the Universe with it because your product has all…

Okay. We all know that you ARE working on the next big thing right now and gonna make a dent in the Universe with it because your product has all that kick-ass aura that junta would definitely crave for; but there is just one little question: Can you kill someone? Can you kill a seasoned multi-billion dollar business just be cooking a new ‘innovative’ thing which the giants wouldn’t otherwise be able to do?

There are many curious cases of ‘killer’ launches lately which sprung out of no where with great publicity but soon fizzed away to their own death, or nearly. Sooner than expected. For example, Cuil was projected as Google killer initially, but all it did was wane away silently into near forgetfulness. Not that Cuil is dead now, but the opportunity of great publicity was lost by them in an arguably inefficient manner. Something similar happened with Wolfram Alpha too, who later graciously accepted that they’d “over-measured” their potential. Thankfully, both Wolfram & Cuil happen to survive today but more or less on the back seat, quite far from the goal of killing Google.

If one looks at how slowly someone as big as Microsoft is acquiring search space next to Google, inch by inch, and how difficult it is for a giant like Microsoft too, then it would be easy to realize that there was never a chance for a startup like Cuil or Wolfram to kill Google. No matter what funding. In fact, there is strong reason to believe that great competitors have grown big only as underdogs or in a shape that no one could have imagined would grow into something as big as a potential killer. Like it happened with Facebook. Even then Facebook is far from killing Google, because companies like Google ain’t gonna stop innovating. The only way available to kill a business is to stop it from innovating, (i.e use embargoes, patent infringements and lawsuits etc.) and not let it acquire innovating talent from outside too. Now that’s a difficult thing to do for a startup 🙂

Sometimes, it is the media which paints a half-baked picture about ambitious little younglings. (IMHO does someone feel TechCrunch going the sensationlist India-TV way, occasionally?) But finally the responsibility of public-image vests only the founders/CEO, so if something inaccurate has been published, one must correct it through his/her own PR statement or a post on the company blog. Even a comment under the coverage does a great job. To tell you why this is important is that Asian startups are very young today. And much would go on stake, if the approach is not carefully gauged and value of statements not carefully understood.

NotionInk from India is one good ambitious company to look at, who for the first time managed to catch the eye of the world with their Adam. Creating a potential globally recognized reading device from India too is a very welcome change, but was projecting Adam as an iPad killer necessary? Reading one of the postings on NotionInk’s Facebook account – “These sinners are ready to regain paradise! ‘Having become famous as Apple iPad killer, the Adam tablet has catapulted its founders into the pantheon of technological innovators .. ‘ we felt a need to bring out the flip side of such a marketing strategy. Projecting oneself as a killer of something has been witnessed to fail in the past. Avoid it, coz startups can’t kill big companies (no one can kill big companies). Only the reverse is true.

It is quite understandable that for a first timer or a small startup it is easy to get seduced by publicity glare of the traditional media. But challenging a constantly innovating company like Apple, who has been there in industry for thirty years and is worshiped for its products is anything but mature. Just have a look at the following pic on NotionInks’s Facebook profile showing Steve Jobs constructing iPhone -> iPad -> iBoard -> iMat until 2014 intended in a pun sort of a way? That’s not how you could boost sales of Adam, or is it? If yes, then have a look at the comments people have submitted on your profile once. That’s your potential market after all.

Quoting Christopher A Miller, from NotionInk’s profile page:

Why do we waste our time on trying to “kill” other companies product instead of just pushing innovation. Without Apple breaking ground with the concept of a phone OS in the tablet, people probably would not be giving tablets the time of day. If we our going to worry about “killing” other products, we are going to end up looking foolish and sue over patents. Please lets try to change the world’s way of computing by working together. Where ever that comes from. (east or west)

Now do I have to explain this better?

Update by Utkirsht, close friend of Notion Ink [Apparently the image is created by a fanboy of NotionInk and is posted into their profile, as informed in comments below]

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