Why Is Everyone In Such A Hurry When Moving First Is Usually a Disadvantage?
The odds suggest it would be wiser to talk about first-mover disadvantage rather than first-mover advantage. Here's an example (by no means limited to Apple) from the iPhone. The author actually has a stronger argument than his data suggest: Two of his Apple-as-first-mover examples are actually incorrect and he misses the defining feature of the original iPhone:
Touch Gestures: Neonode launched a phone with touch UI years ahead of the original iPhone
Force Touch: Blackberry's Storm device, launched in response to the iPhone, offered a predecessor to Force Touch years ahead of Apple
Why do first-movers usually lose? Are there strategic issues, execution issues, or both?
What if there are established incumbents with strong execution skills (like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook) who are formidable followers eagerly waiting on the sidelines? If the first-mover is in no position to out-execute the incumbents, strategy likely defines the outcome.
In a world where new innovations can come from anywhere at anytime, understanding when (and how) to move first and when to follow others is an essential part of strategic thinking.
We discuss these and related questions in virtually every class beginning with Strategy in Practice.