Friday, August 30, 2013

You're a More Innovative Man Than I Am, Gunga Din!

Professor Chris Trimble invents weird bullshit because that is his job:
In March 2009, Logitech formed a special team with an urgent mission. The maker of computer peripherals, especially keyboards and mice, had been caught off-guard when consumers in China unexpectedly fell in love with a new mouse that was not Logitech’s. The company closely monitored its direct rivals, especially Microsoft, but this market insurgency was engineered by a Chinese company called Rapoo, at best a faint blip on Logitech’s radar screen.

You may think that this storyline, in which a healthy multinational finds itself under siege from a developing world upstart, is unlikely or unusual. If so, think again. Thanks to the rising phenomenon of reverse innovation, we can expect that the scene that played out at Logitech will repeat itself in industry after industry.
What? Reverse innovation?
Reverse innovation defined

A reverse innovation is any innovation that is adopted first in the developing world. To be clear: What makes an innovation a reverse innovation has nothing to do with where the innovators are, and it has nothing to do with where the companies are. It has only to do with where the customers are.

Historically, reverse innovation has been a rare phenomenon. In fact, the logic for innovations flowing downhill, from the rich world to the developing world, is natural and intuitive. After all, it is the richest customers in the richest countries that will always demand the newest technologies. In due time, the costs of new technologies come down, and incomes in the developing world rise. As a result, innovations trickle down. Right?

Be careful. The intuitive assumption that poor countries are engaged in a process of gradually catching up with the rich world has become toxic. It is a strategic blind spot that has the potential to sink an increasingly common aspiration: to generate high growth in the emerging economies. The assumption can even inflict long-term damage in home markets. That is because surprisingly often, reverse innovations defy gravity and flow uphill to the rich world. As a result, a defeat in a developing country half a world away can lead directly to a stinging blow in your own back yard.
Be careful of assumptions rick folks! You may find you have them exactly BACKWARDS. Haw haw.

13 comments:

Smut Clyde said...

A reverse innovation is any innovation that is adopted first in the developing world.

Can't see where the "reverse" comes from, unless you start by assuming that "the only people entitled to innovate is us, and all you other people have been divinely appointed to the role of trying to catch up with us."

tigris said...

Chinese consumers prefer one Chinese-made mouse over another. This event shatters my world-view and I must name it and warn others.

Substance McGravitas said...

Exactly. The guy's trying to stake out new jargon that serves better as a diagnostic tool to identify empty privilege in its users.

ckc (not kc) said...

...take a mid-range mouse...remove some useless stuff to improve the price point...innovation!

Smut Clyde said...

So apart from entrenching this assumption of natural developed-world priority in the very term he has coined to fight it, does Trimble adduce any evidence that anyone other than himself shares his assumptions?

Professor Chris Trimble invents weird bullshit because that is his job

Soon markets in the developing world will be inventing their own weird bullshit, and Trimble will be scrambling to identify and copy it.

Substance McGravitas said...

How is it that a millionaire can eat a meal and be impressed when non-millionaires prepare it?

Reverse innovation.

tigris said...

Soon markets in the developing world will be inventing their own weird bullshit, and Trimble will be scrambling to identify and copy it.

We can call this "perforce syndication."

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Trimble before me, mere mortals!
~

Another Kiwi said...

The trouble with Trimbles

M. Bouffant said...

I am not buying a mouse from anything called the Rape-o Co., no matter how trendy they are in China.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The guy's trying to stake out new jargon that serves better as a diagnostic tool to identify empty privilege in its users.

That smoke won't blow itself up the elitists' asses.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Soon markets in the developing world will be inventing their own weird bullshit, and Trimble will be scrambling to identify and copy it.

Just wait until writers from Mumbai start having conversations with New York and LA cabbies.

fish said...

My pet Wog is innovating! How cute!