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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Red Queen Effect 2

Dave Bayless has responded to Critiques of the Red Queen Model, including my comments on this blog (Red Queen Effect, see also Rates of Evolution).

Dave chooses to define innovation as "launching new products". Both John Hagel and I believe that there are other kinds of innovation that are important. But I have a more fundamental concern with Dave's definition - if I don't know exactly what counts as a "new product", then I don't know how to count them. If this year's model has a slightly faster chip than last year's model, or a brushed aluminium case, does that count as a "new product"? Let's say the iPod is a new product, but is the iPhone really a new product, or just a fancy redesign of an old product?

Lots of people in product development have a vested interest in labelling everything as "new improved". Pharma companies spend a small fortune looking for variations on existing drugs, so they can get patent protection for the "new" formula. But if you take these descriptions at face value, you get a fundamentally distorted view of the underlying technology change.

This is why I think we need a rigorous model of technology change, which handles some of the complications I raise in my previous blog entries.

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