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Strategy Letter III: Let Me Go Back!

Mar 23, 2009, 02:02 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joel Spolsky)

"To take over a market, you have to address every barrier to entry. If you forget just one barrier which trips up 50% of your potential customers, then by definition, you can't have more than 50% market share, and you will never displace the dominant player, and you'll be stuck on the sad (omelet) side of chicken and egg problems.

"This was published in 2000, and it is just as The trouble is that most managers only think about strategy one step at a time, like chess players who refuse to think one move ahead. Most of them will say, "it's important to let people convert into your product, but why should I waste my limited engineering budget letting people convert out?"

"That's a childish approach to strategy. It reminds me of independent booksellers, who said "why should I make it comfortable for people to read books in my store? I want them to buy the books!" And then one day Barnes and Nobles puts couches and cafes in the stores and practically begged people to read books in their store without buying them. Now you've got all these customers sitting in their stores for hours at a time, mittengrabben all the books with their filthy hands, and the probability that they find something they want to buy is linearly proportional to the amount of time they spend in the store, and even the dinkiest Barnes and Nobles superstore in Iowa City rakes in hundreds of dollars a minute while the independent booksellers are going out of business."
This was published in 2000, and it is just as pertinent as ever-- this explains why 'free' and 'better' are not quite enough to effectively market Linux-- ed.

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