Every company is searching for it. That it product that rockets them from spunky competitor into channel master. The kind of product that makes retailers bend over backwards and rewrite contracts for you. In the tech business, Apple is the 500 ton gorilla that has redefined a generation. People even forget that not so long ago it was the biggest ape on the mountain at the time, Microsoft, that had to sweep in and rescue the near insolvent underdog. And they only did this to stave off anti-trust. My how things change…
You can go crazy trying to figure out the secret ingredient in Apple’s rise to mobile overlord. I still get a chuckle and shake my head a little every time I see a brand putting a lower case “i” in front of a noun in a desperate attempt to bottle just a little bit of the iPhone thunder. But let’s put that puzzle aside. The truth of the matter is that while I am confident that there will be many more Apples and Moto Razrs (That’s right, you had one and that was a thing.), creating the next “it” handheld is a million if not billion dollar enterprise and I seriously doubt that any of those opinion leaders are going to take advice from little old me. Instead, I’m going to go out into left field and talk about what I believe to be the great unsung “Win Button” product I have seen in recent years; The Dyson Airblade.
I love this thing. And that says something because I have never even once in my life consciously noticed anything in a public bathroom. But the first time I put my hands into this machine, it was love. And I’m not the only one. I bet when you used this thing it blew your mind. And if you haven’t used one, leave right now, drink a litre of Gatorade and get down to your nearest half decent shopping mall. You will not be disappointed. Now this is all from the consumer or end-user point of view.
From the purchaser’s perspective the Airblade just keeps on winning. It’s a huge energy saver, beating its conventional cousins, which translates to dollars in the pocket over time. The price point of $1,500 dollars while definitely on the high side is by no means exorbitant (A standard modern dryer is going to run you around $600 to $1,200) and did I mention the thing looks gorgeous. The industrial designers for the Airblade get a serious tip of the hat for giving it that slick Star Trek reboot look (cue lens flare). Dyson’s final coup de grace was getting the whole thing certified as the ONLY hygienic commercial hand dryer in the world by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation).
At this point, if you are still reading, you must be wondering why I would talk about a hand dryer like it’s the second coming. I mean this is probably the least sexy product in an industry of less-than-sexy products. That is exactly why I chose it. Once you strip away all the “buzz” and “rockstar” from a product, you get down to what really makes a product a winner; a superior, innovative product at a justified price point. Apple took the “Gucci” road to success and won. Many people do buy Apple products just because they are Apple. Yes, Apple did innovate A LOT and pretty much reinvented the wheel for handhelds but that was 2007. since then the universe has caught up and Apple has been pretty much riding the hype train ever since. Motorola took a very similar road with their own reinventions and, when the hype ran out, nearly lost their company. Dyson, on the other hand, looked at a ubiquitous generic product and took it to another level. Around half of the malls I’ve been in recently have Dyson Airblades and I’m sure that translates into a windfall for Dyson.
So when it comes time to design your new “it” product, bring up the Dyson Airblade. In my opinion, there is no finer litmus test.