With powerful competitive advantages such as vast resources or a dominant position, large entrenched corporations can often succeed in the market as late entrants. Tapping these kinds of advantages, Microsoft has been able to fare very well as a market latecomer, like it did, for example, with its late-to-market introduction of Internet Explorer.
But, powerful companies with a habit of late entry should heed the warnings of history. It is not unusual for powerful latecomers to ultimately find themselves unable to overtake a thriving newcomer.
For example, in the days before Microsoft's prominence, IBM also had a track record of success as a latecomer. But eventually, IBM lost major advantages when newer entrant Microsoft grew vast and dominant in itself. And outside of high tech, Mattel is an example of a large powerful company that has advantages associated with successful late entry. Yet, the popular Bratz dolls gained enough momentum as a brand so that Mattel couldn't rely on late entry to compete successfully with the upstart doll line. Instead, Mattel has tried using legal challenges to deal with Bratz competition.
Thus, large late entrant companies risk eventually finding themselves unable to beat the earlier entrant. And, Microsoft may very well be at that point as it vies with Google. This makes it tougher for Microsoft to use a Yahoo acquisition to win as a latecomer in the market for search. It looks like Google is strongly entrenched and well beyond the point where Microsoft can be a threat to its search business.
But whether or not Microsoft's pursuit of Yahoo exhibits prescient timing may depend more upon what Google does than on anything Microsoft can control. Microsoft may find latecoming tough unless Google takes its eyes off the ball and gets overly wrapped up in pursuing too many new areas. But, if Google fumbles the ball while chasing so many new avenues, Microsoft could potentially make a win while Google is distracted.
Google has strengths in innovation. But, depending upon the circumstances, every strength can be a weakness and every weakness can be a strength. Google has been innovating so much lately, moving into so all kinds of new areas. Although Google's innovation gets accolades, that kind of positive recognition is often greatest right before the fall. Companies often find their core business deteriorating as they get distracted pursuing too many new areas, most of which do not pan out. So, Google is at risk. The outcome will depend upon how well Google manages the situation.
Yet, Google does have advantages. By letting its people spend 20% of their time on pet projects of their choice, these projects can be relatively far along by the time Google commercializes them. This can let Google evolve faster. But, it doesn't mean that Google can go full speed ahead into tons of new areas without some degree of risk to its core business. To stay on top, Google must heed the patterns of businesses past. While focusing on the new, Google must make sure its core business does not weaken from excessive underemphasis.
The report refutes the conventional view about why we have been seeing major changes in the practice of marketing. Major changes in the practice of marketing came about not because the old way stopped working. They came about because something triggered heightened awareness of approaches that had been working all along, but previously received little attention. It took the triggers to highlight the value of these effective, but long ignored, approaches and to stimulate change in how marketing is practiced.
The report discusses what these triggers are, and describes how the rise of the great brands was due to factors beyond traditional advertising oriented consumer marketing. Strategic factors were particularly important, and the report discusses the ties between those strategic factors and CMO tenure. A must-read for anyone grappling with the changing role of marketing, the report explains how some things change while key strategic patterns generally endure through time.
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