iPhone technology proves it can take 40 years to become an overnight success
In a world where innovation moves at the speed of light, most of us take for granted of the many great innovative NPD projects that have improved and changed the way we live.Â The truth is many NPD projects sustain battle scars from years, and in many cases decades, proving their worth and/or acceptance for their intended audience. The reality is 90%-95% of great innovations initially fail. Â In fact many great innovations were created by technologists and inventors who had no concept of market acceptance or the desire to fill the need of a particular audience.Â Moreover, even in the case where a methodical approach was taken to mitigate the risk of failure, revolutionary innovations are faced with a world that inherently resists change.Â So if failure is evident, why are businesses willing to consistently invest billions of dollars in innovation and R&D?Â Â The answer is simple.Â Businesses understand that with high risk comes great rewards and despite humanity’s nature to halt change once “the new becomes the norm” the return on investment can be limitless.
Take for example the Corning corporation who launched Pyrex glass cookware in 1915 in the US.Â The history of the “Pyrex” invention actually dials back decades earlier when Otto Schott in Germany in the late 19th century invented the highly durable glass for commercial applications under the “Duran” brand.Â Yet the commercial worldwide success of Pyrex only materialized when the technology found its way to a much larger audience in kitchens across the world in the 1930s and 1940s.
The “Pyrex” scenario us not an anomaly.Â In fact not too long ago with the introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2006, Steve Job’s help revive one of Corning’s technological innovations that was dormant for over 40 years.Â Back in the 1960s Corning launched “Project Muscle” to develop a highly resistant glass to market to auto manufacturers to introduce a better windshield to the marketplace.Â Due to its cost structure the project failed and the technology was shelved.Â Fast forward to 2006 when Steve Jobs was searching for a better screen that was scratch resistant for his iPhone.Â Aware of Corning’s innovation in glass technology, Jobs approached Corning’s CEO Wendell Weeks who suggested the 1960s technology branded “Gorilla Glass” turning an old technology into a $160 million business.
Whether its Pyrex, Gorilla Glass or any revolutionary innovation, NPD projects teach us that it is society who sets the pace for change and market acceptance in new product development.Â Â That being said, truly innovative projects will ultimately experience success only when the time is right.
Tags: Apple Computers, New Product Development Projects, PM Fundamentals, Product Lifecycle Management, Project Failure, Project Innovation, Strategic Project Management, Successful Project Management