But there is something of “perverse” in this denomination, since it is also used by those who really leave the innovation to others so as not to take risks in the market and only launch new products when they have already been shown to work. This is increasingly evident in large companies, who do not want to take false steps when creating new products. Actually, I think what happens is that they simply take the position of copying what has been shown to work, relying on many occasions on a position of dominance of the market.
Examples of smart followers there are many, such as Nokia when it dominated the mobility market and even Microsoft itself adopted this way of acting when Windows was the benchmark in the operating system market. But, to them, they were branded as immobilists or as being unambitious (I was the first). This is because at that time, the concept of smart follower did not exist … a shame for them, obviously.
But for a couple of days I’ve been thinking that Apple has gone from being a innovation paradigmYou just have to remember the iPad, iPhone and iPod launches, to be a smart follower (or what I call a white glove “copier”). The first thing I have to say is a real shame, but the truth is that the arrival of the new iPhone 6 Plus confirms this – before it happened with the iPad Air, we must not forget it.
Basically what the Cupertino company has done is that, seeing that the aforementioned product ranges have worked, they have decided to take the step to launch their own products – in other words, they have become gentrified. This has an indisputable business logic, especially in relation to the cold numbers (in this Tim Cook is a prodigy), but it makes him lose the “aroma” of a reference company for innovating and being the one that “broke the mold” and, for extension, which was what gave it a differential value. Now honestly others have inherited that aura.
The clear example of what I am saying is Google. It is true that there are products that it has launched that do not have a very clear future in the market, such as Google Glass, but it is no less true that they have been an accolade in what this company is capable of doing. In addition, they also work on a smart car (autonomous) and the evolution of Android, -with its good and bad things-, offers news that Apple itself makes its own, such as widgets or the importance of notification of messages. In other words, they are the complete opposite of what a smart follower is and, curiously, their future looks bright.
And I don’t want to be tempted to mention Samsung’s Note range, so vilified at the time by many but that, in the end, it has been shown that the bet (which was that in the beginning) was good and, therefore, in this section I innovate. In others it is not like that, obviously, but it keeps trying with the arrival of the curved screen on one side, for example.
The future of a smart follower
Well, the truth is that it is not usually very good, but in the long term. His short-term and contemplative way of acting makes him transmit to buyers and users that they do not have a differential product and that, in addition, they have news later than others (this sounds like something, right?). Therefore, generally what happens is that a downward slope begins – not very steep – in terms of sales, and that in many cases ends in disaster. This does not mean that the same thing will happen to Apple, but the truth is that it is not good to be a smart follower, no matter how much the term now exists and sounds attractive.
In addition, the mobility sector, and technology in general, punishes companies that are not risky, without doing crazy things, since the future of these is one of the things that is most taken into account in the companies than companies in this sector. Thus, being conservative is not a good solution or position, since deep down copying, no matter how much white glove is used, is simply that. No more no less. And a clear example of how complicated it is to end the “stigma” is the one that Samsung still has, right?