In the business world of sharks and prey, Facebook has been self-inflicting wounds with multiple mistakes. But it can become a dominant shark with one product – The Facebook Tablet. Think about it. You walk into your local café and watch people in front of you, tablet in-hand with the big blue Facebook logo, getting coffee for free. How is this possible?
Facebook can create the first hybrid business model for tablets that combine manufacturing everyone has access to in Asia with the marketing power of social interaction and product endorsement:
• Businesses get free word-of-mouth marketing in seconds • My Facebook friends get discounts for liking products and businesses I endorse • Design the device as Facebook’s logo – make it work offline. • Finance the device with advertisers who likes to connect with 1 billion Facebook users. • Give away free tablets to heavy users – those how have more than 2000 friends and are online more than 10 hours a week (in relation with quality rankings etc). But if they are not social enough they have to pay a monthly fee for the device. • Include payment solutions in the device; make 1 billion users use it as their mobile (free calls to Facebook friends), credit cards and member cards. • Facebook can with this tablet launch books, movies, cars etc., in other words turning the world into a blue and white shopping mall for those who LIKE to shop!
And I would compare the offline eye-ball test for Facebook Tablets to Jaws coming for the Orca.
I have long said that today’s tablet makers are selling cars with no engine and progress is slow with lots of hype. In the world of Sharkonomics, the most attractive prey are companies that make over-hyped products that don’t swim as fast as others in the environment. Such as Microsoft who recently introduced their new Surface tablet, it looks good but only on the ‘surface’.
Apple’s Tuesday presser sure looked cool, but what is the difference between what they are selling now and what they were selling before? Not much. Facebook has made lots of logistical mistakes, but the company remains committed to product evolution, which makes then a dangerous shark in any product war.
Applying the principles of nature to business, sharks typically attack over-hyped companies with too many products, perceived strength that might not really be there, a temporary lack of competition, and leadership that isn’t moving as fast as the surrounding environment.
That sounds a lot like Apple.
Here are 6 ways I see a shark-attack on Apple going down:
1. A lead bite. Sooner or later, Samsung’s advantages in product functionality will convince executives to stop following Apple and comparing products. 2. Open-water pursuit. Apple has been feeding in the same waters forever. I compare its customers to the poor folks in Jaws, who were forced to spend the 4th of July either swimming in a limited area beach area of Amity Island or not swim at all. Apple’s business model locks people into their solutions and eventually, a competitor will offer new software, new hardware or cross-over functionality between popular apps and other mobile products. 3. Too much kicking. Apple is doing lots of things like launching the iPad mini, but more of the same might end of making the company an appetizing target for sharks. 4. Bite from a great white. The world’s top CEOs can go into any industry and create a successful company. They are visionary, which ironically is exactly how Apple became a powerhouse. I’ll closely be watching what Richard Branson, who just offered the iPhone4 as a product for Virgin Mobile customers, will do in the coming months. 5. Bite through the shark cage. I teach companies the difference between “protection” and “defense.” For example, people in shark cages often assume they are protected, while those who swim with the sharks know that is not true. In Apple’s case, they over-protecting the past and not defending the future. With very little difference between the iPhone4 and 5 and lots of the same corporate visuals, Apple looks stuck in its own history. Meanwhile, sharks are continuously on the move, and although this might sound slightly cold, they are not sentimental. 6. Eaten by its own school. Sharkonomics equates Apple fanatics to a school of shark swimming with the leader. But there is a blind spot to this approach. Apple does very little to educate retailers about new products until they are already in the market. With more products than ever, what does this mean for customer service and the overall consumer experience? If a competitor like Samsung incorporates a better customer service component with a better technology solution, Apple’s school of followers might end up eating the company and moving to an alternative leader.
On behalf of SACC-NE, I wanted to thank you for an excellent Sharkonomics presentation. Not only were you able to captivate and entertain the fifty people attending, but I had several members reach out to me afterwards commenting on the great energy in the presentation. Your ability to distill core shark principles and apply them to businesses at different stages in their life cycles was both challenging and inspiring.
Best wishes for your continued U.S. tour,
Rasmus Goksor President of Swedish American Chamber of Commerce of New England
Recently I had the honor to be the opening speaker at IRM’s conference: Business Model innovation 2012. Even if I wish I was the reason why top management from Ericsson and other leading companies came to this conference, I have to to admit that I was more of an opening act for the world class speaker Alexander Osterwalder. My Sharkonomics speech was focusing on why companies need to move in order avoid becoming sharkfood. Alexander showed how to move by using Business Model innovation. His way of making the audience work is world-class.
During the day Alexander reflected and included my speech in this full day workshop with expressions like:
Alexander took a bite into the shark thinking and reflected often with references such as the blue and red ocean strategy.
Another of his excellent points was to start move management out of the box they are stuck in. There are often too many barriers in management blocking CHANGE.
Here are my favorite expressions from Alexander: • Writing business plan is carrier suicide. • Rest in peace. • Prototype different thinking. • Apple did not know.
After the lecture I asked him about one of his one-liners: ”Failure is part of the learning experience.” He explained that learning is the goal with failure. The goal is to fail cheaply. Willing to fail allow a learning strategy.
I would love to see the first university that graduates student in failure MBA. It will happen if thinkers as Alexander puts failure into the business model.
Thanks to IRM for arranging this excellent seminar.
Big corporations often practice cannibalism by competing with themselves. These types of solutions might work work fine on a white board but often not in the nature of real business life. The short time consequences can be losing brand strength and weakening corporate culture, which can attract competitors who can sense opportunities to bite into market shares.