I think I summarized a significant number of headlines. I find these extremely unuseful. I agree it’s a good idea to compare a new product to an old, incumbent. However, what is not useful (to me at least) is to compare them in a black and white modicum. It’s most prevalant with two products – Google Search and the iPhone. Every new company that has focus on search is compared to Google, and labeled as a Google-killer, or not. Cuil was victimized by this. Wolfram and Bing are newer examples. For the iPhone, it’s the Blackberry Storm or the Palm Pre.
While most of these companies didn’t mind the publicity (at least before it started), it’s not fair for anyone involved. the iPhone and Google Search were paradigm shifters. When both came out, they transformed user behavior, and forced others in the market to follow suit. The fact that we have to label something an x-killer means that it probably failed at killing x because it instantly reminds everyone of x. Did anyone call the iPhone a Razr-killer? Or the Google an Altavista-killer?
The other issue – not being a killer does not preclude success. I would have a legitimate argument that Verizon is doing better than AT&T with the Storm. Verizon sold 500,000 units the first month, and 1M units in the first two months (compare that to the iPhone 3G, which sold 2.4M in the first three months). Verizon, for one, probably pays a significantly lower amount to RIM than AT&T does for the iPhone exclusivity. Second, the margins for the network have to be MUCH better on Verizon. Check out the recent AdMob metrics report – while RIM represented 17% of smartphone sales, they only represented 9% of HTML traffic measured by AdMob. Compare that to Apple – 8% of smartphone sales with 43% of the traffic. The actual difference is probably worse – the report uses 2008 sales data as a proxy of current market share. Anyways, this defines success from the network perspective, not the consumer perspective, but I think it’s important that we keep that in mind (and as a consumer on AT&T’s network, I can tell you that more phone sales, especially iPhone sales, is ruining my experience and is about to drive me to another network).
One interesting article to check out – apparently we did miss that Google was a killer until it was already popular.