The Essential Phone has been revealed and Andy Rubin is probably pretty hopeful it will be a success. Before we had our first look at the Essential Phone, I had been reading some articles about new product launches. One in particular from the Harvard Business Review caught my eye and is fairly relevant to the Essential Phone launch. The article reveals five reasons why most product launches fail. These points aren’t to say that Rubin’s project will fail, rather, they are points that Rubin and his team will have to face. Only time will tell if they manage to overcome these challenges.
Challenge 1: Will the company support fast growth? Have a plan to ramp up quickly if the product takes off.
As talked about in Harvard Business Review’s article. Many products and companies fail with their product launch because they do not have a plan to sustain their launch if it’s wildly popular. It’s basically supply and demand. If the Essential Phone takes off and the company cannot support the number of orders being requested, over time, users can and will lose interest. Even large companies like Google have faltered on this first point. The Google Pixel lost some luster in some buyer’s eyes simply because they couldn’t buy it.
Challenge 2: The product falls short of claims and gets bashed. Delay your launch until the product is really ready.
If you make a claim about your product, you had better be ready to back it up. We’ve seen many tech products make a claim only to have fallen on their face and have their lunch handed to them. The Essential Phone hasn’t really made any outrageous claims that are aimed at taking out the competition. Rubin did make a blog post outlining his vision and reasons for making the device all of which form a solid vision.
Challenge 3: The new item exists in “product limbo.” Test the product to make sure its differences will sway buyers.
The Essential Phone is still not available and we can only hope that Rubin has a group of beta testers. The smartphone market is pretty saturated and brand loyalty is high here. Those who are using iPhones, Galaxies, and Google phones need a really good reason to want to switch to an unknown device. Rubin is going to need something other than a written vision to sway the mass market buyers from their familiar and comfortable space.
Challenge 4: The product defines a new category and requires substantial consumer education—but doesn’t get it. If consumers can’t quickly grasp how to use your product, it’s toast.
This challenge is probably not as relevant to the Essential Phone unless there is some knock-out feature Rubin is planning on that no other phone has. Still, the device needs to be at least somewhat familiar making any transition as seamless as possible.
Challenge 5: The product is revolutionary, but there’s no market for it. Don’t gloss over the basic questions “Who will buy this and at what price?”
Here in lies the biggest challenge. This sort of marries with challenge 3. Who is going to buy this device and why would they want to? If Rubin and his team aren’t giving the market a really compelling reason to use their device, people are likely not going to switch. There may be some buzz and talk about it, but in the end, if there’s nothing there that does anything better than what they currently have, most users are going to stick to their familiar zone rather than take the time and trouble to switch.
Andy Rubin is an intelligent guy I’m sure he’s thought about these challenges and hopefully, the team is ready to face them. Any time we see a new smartphone company launch we can only hope for the best for them. Competition is a great thing and we want these to succeed. But we can’t ignore the mass market mentality and their tendency to want to stick to comfort and unwillingness to make a switch to something new. I’m looking forward to seeing where he can go with this and perhaps Essential Phone can effect change in the competition’s products as well.