The change function

The commercial failure rate of nominally great new technologies is trou- blingly high. The failure rate is consistent with the hatred and distrust most normal human beings have of high technology. The goal of this summary is to look at what has failed in the past, to understand how the industry came to be in the position it is in today, and to spotlight examples of what might and might not work in the future.

Consider the cool new things that have been immediately successful: Apple’s iPod, the flat-screen television and Netflix. Now, switch gears and think about the major failures: the video phone, the Segway and the Tablet PC. Billions of dollars ride on this question: Why do some new technologies succeed and others fail?

After years of studying countless winners and losers, author Pip Coburn has come up with an idea that explains why some technologies become huge hits, but others never reach more than a tiny audience. People are only will- ing to change and accept new technologies when the pain of their current sit- uation outweighs the perceived pain of trying something new. Most potential users are afraid of new technologies, and they need a really great reason to change. If you don’t give them that reason, then forget it.

We’ve all heard it before: “Build it and they will come.” Well, the last six years have proven that, at least in the technology industry, this maxim is shockingly — and expensively — untrue. But there’s an alternative approach: That’s what The Change Function is all about.