Just Open Your Eyes

December 13, 2005

Seuss I have been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss these days. With a three-year-old boy, it is required reading. One particularly funny story is “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut.” Of course, even though the Cat can read with his eyes shut he makes the point that it is much better to read with your eyes open, at least on one side. That way you can read better and faster.

The same thing is true about marketing. Because there is opportunity all over the place, marketing strategy is best performed with your eyes wide open. If your eyes are always open, you can see divergence happening and take advantage by being the first to launch a new brand.

Charles Darwin showed us that “nature favors the extremes.” The same is true in the marketplace. Brands stuck in the mushy middle like Kmart are doomed. Instead, we see two divergence brands. Wal-Mart on the cheap branch. And Target on the chic branch.

Keep your eyes wide open and you will see divergence happening in cellphones. And where there is divergence, there is opportunity. I just bought a new cellphone. My first in two years. Originally I had a Samsung. One of the first flip-phones with color screens. It was a wonderful small compact phone. It had some Internet capabilities which I never used. In two years, I only touched the button once to download a new ring tone (a Yaz song.)

I had high hopes for my new phone. (I wanted a Razr, but they are not sold by Verizon, my telecom carrier.) In two years I figured the new phone selection would be amazing. They would be smaller, cooler, and cheaper. But that was not the case. First of all, no phone in the whole store was a small as my original, not even close. Can you believe it? Not one. They have all gotten larger, bulkier and more expensive.

On the other hand, my new laptop computer from Toshiba is smaller, lighter and much cheaper than its predecessor.

Most phones today are stuck in the mushy middle. They are part music player, part camera, part phone, part email, and part web browsers. I believe there are some people like myself who want just a phone. The smaller and the cooler the better. (Think Razr.) There are some people that want all the gadgets. Most providers have forgotten about me and focus on only the gear heads.

I might want a wireless device for email and surfing, but I don’t want to do it on my cellphone, it’s too difficult. This spells opportunity in two directions. One is for an Internet service designed for mobile technology. (Looking at a regular website or doing a Google search on a cellphone phone is just totally impractical.) The Internet needs websites designed strictly for cellphone or small device use. Short, simple, and mostly words.

The second opportunity is for a totally new product which would be a mobile web device with a large screen and a keypad. What BlackBerry is to mobile email. This would be to mobile Internet.

If music players didn’t converge with cellphones, why do companies think the Internet will merge with cellphones? Phones might have Internet access to download ring tunes and new software. But if you really want to surf the net while you’re on the town, I think people will crave a new type of device. And a new type of Internet website.

I just want a phone that is small and chic, like my Nano. The Nano is beautiful, a music player that is small, simple and pure. If the cellphone companies would keep their wide eyes open, they might just see a divergence opportunity right before their eyes.