Product Development Assumptions Must Factor In Predictable Regulatory Positions
I’ve posted to this blog on earlier dates on the topic of Google Glass. I don’t like the product for a number of reasons. This list includes concerns about regulatory agencies efforts to prohibit sale of the product. I think it’s mandatory for technology businesses to factor in the stance of regulatory agencies when they think about building solutions for markets. So, with Google Glass, and the new text to speech email reader products automotive manufacturers have announced, any useful product plan must anticipate likely regulatory action to ban the sale of these products for specific markets. Further, this type of product plan should include an assumption of how likely regulatory efforts will affect market size. The most notorious example of computing solutions crossing the regulatory line is, of course, Napster.
So where, if at all, does it make sense for technology businesses to undertake development for these markets? I think this type of “edgy” product development only makes sense for very large businesses, like Google. They have the financial resources to weather the losses likely to result from these types of efforts. The only legitimate driver, in my opinion, is an effort to brand the company as the leading edge of product innovation, and, further, one with the courage to question the positions taken by regulatory agencies.
This type of branding effort carries with it the “rebel” label, which has proven itself to be a very attractive label for the U.S. consumer market. Apple wielded the “rebel” brand to great positive effect. Perhaps Google is after the same territory.
But it’s very risky for early stage technology businesses, especially those running on self-financing, to challenge regulatory agencies. There are better ways to achieve a rebellious brand as a market leader than this type of effort. One last word on this topic: from what we’ve read recently, it looks as if European regulators may soon enforce privacy policies likely to substantially raise the cost of operating cloud services in an approved and legal manner.
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