Re: Worse is better

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From: Ernest N. Prabhakar (
Date: Wed Mar 15 2000 - 21:47:09 PST

Oh, come on. Generally, when a really well-managed superior technology
comes out alongside a poorly-managed inferior one, the inferior goes away so
fast nobody notices:

* Qwerty may be worse that Dvorak, but it was far better than the existing
competition it had at the time.

* The internal combustion engine won over steam buggies.

* Digital computers won out over analog.

Beyond that, of course, quality is always a multi-dimensional thing, and
there's something slightly solipsistic about your definitions of 'better.'
Frankly, its only when the technologies are relatively close and there's a
clear difference in marketing will the competition even be noticeable.

So, if we redefine your question (which maybe you meant it this way anyway),
it becomes "Why in close technology races does the edge always seem to end
up with the better marketer than the 'better' technology?" The answer is
pretty simple -- in a word, network effects. If two technologies are
comparable, the one which gains ground fastest will ultimately gain an
advantage outweighing technical superiority. Which is ultimately marketing.

Also, it depends on your goals. In most of your dichotomies, the
"technically superior" product was mostly focused on being technically
superior. The other product was focused on "taking over the world at any
cost, and technical purity be damned." Who would you bet on in that

-- Ernie P.

on 3/15/00 9:17 PM, Jeff Bone at wrote:

> Ian Andrew Bell wrote:
>> The pattern is extremely simple, if you ask me. In each category,
>> Marketing / Business Development is the key differentiator.
> Yeah, that was sort of my working hypothesis for a long time, too. But as I
> made
> the transition to "the dark side" a few years back, I had a realization: that
> shouldn't, just statistically, be the case all the time. I can't think of ANY
> situation where there's been two or more choices, with one the clear technical
> winner (or at least, the "higher-minded" technical solution,) where the best
> technology has won!!! *Not a single one.* I'd be *thrilled* if somebody could
> point one out.
> It can't possibly be the case that best technologies are always, inevitably
> saddled
> with inferior marketing & bizdev, can it? Or if it is, why the absolute
> correspondance? Why not a single tech with a superior marketing team?
> All I know is I'm using PHP on the new deal to avoid this very problem. ;-)
> :-)
> jb

Ernest N. Prabhakar, Ph.D.

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