It’s hard always being one step ahead
Most companies will focus on a problem and develop a product that simply solves that problem. Every once in awhile a company will look beyond the problem, beyond the simple solution, and will create something completely new. People will say “It solves a problem I never even knew I had.” Those are the companies that lead the way, the companies that everyone else tries to catch up to.
Apple did this by taking music, movies, and TV shows digital, allowing you to download them on demand without ever having to leave your house. While everyone was switching from DVD to Blu-ray, and switching from Blockbuster to Redbox, those of us paying attention skipped straight to digital.
Square is doing this now with point of sale payments. They looked one step beyond the rest of the companies trying to solve the problems of credit card payments.
Starbucks first implemented a solution to this problem, but they didn’t look far enough into the future. While they implemented an awesome new payment system that allows you to pay by swiping your iphone, the second they released it it was obsolete. Paying for coffee with just the wave of your iPhone is definitely brilliant, and extremely convenient. But Square looked even one more step ahead and said: Why do we have to take our phones or our wallets out at all? They developed a payment system that is secure, fast and easy to use that doesn’t require you to even take your phone out of your pocket. And it works brilliantly.
This is the future. The problem here is people and their inability to embrace new technology quick enough. And large corporations not creative enough to look far enough ahead, or too scared to try something new. Even Google is trying to solve this problem by forcing phone developers to put chips in our devices so that we can scan them like a credit card. These are band-aid solutions.
I know so many people who are still running out to Red Box in the rain to rent movies. Yes they’re only a dollar (although they’ll still end up paying three bucks for the movie when they return in three days later). Someone even told me the other day that they are finally going out and buying a Blu-ray player, for which they paid $250. And they’ll easily pay $25-$45 for every new movie that they purchase going forward. Movies that they’ll either have to buy online and get shipped to them, or that they’ll have to buy at Target or Walmart. For $99, half the price of the average Blu-ray player, you can get an Apple TV and start downloading music, TV shows, and movies to rent or buy on demand. All digital, all served from the cloud. And in great HD quality.
But Apple TV and Square aren’t mainstream yet. Blu-ray, Red Box and the Starbucks Card Mobile Apps are mainstream. What is most annoying is that when the mainstream finally picks up on the better products, they’ll be old and obsolete and we’ll have already moved on to the next thing.