Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Defense of Antivation, and a way to profit from it. Yoo-hoo Microsoft...

   You don't have to be a technophobe to experience some dismay at the seemingly constant barrage of changes and alterations to technologies and programs that have become part of our daily discourse with the world. Let me tell you a secret...I want my antivation!

  Just when you feel the initial joy of mastery, the technology is re-engineered to be more user-friendly. Gasp! This puts us in the unenviable position of having to discard some hard earned work and begin anew. While I am hardly opposed to personal growth, having companies with whom I have formed a relationship kick dirt into the hole I was digging is a little annoying. Antivation please.

   This got me thinking. There must be an emerging market for some technological stabilization. With the baby boomer generation growing older, and in many cases already a bit impervious to change, this is a major opportunity. Microsoft could hang onto the code for Windows 7, for instance. Have a team tightening the code, making the software faster, more reliable and secure, and clawing away at consumer feedback on ways to simplify the whole experience. Then charge annually for licensing (fixed)  and support (a la carte), which I think will be a huge profitable growth area, with boomers aging. Um, antivation?

   The underlying technology need not suffer. As we inevitably move to 128-bit tech and onward, there would be plenty of room to make the program optimized for the new environment. Innoantivation?

   Frankly, I could apply this logic to phones as well. My Samsung Galaxy 3 is a joy. Love it. But I am curious what else of true value can be offered that would make me want to migrate to a new phone. Using the camera as an example, I only need 8 megapixels. The photos I shoot with the phone are capturing moments. Issues of pixelization etc, are not likely to factor in to me moving to a "new model." It handles e-mail, texting, web interaction, and a host of things I am only now unearthing. "Waiter, I ordered ANTIVATION, not innovation. May I please have the old version?"

   My central point is that with a large generation cohort getting to the "get off my lawn" stage of life, perhaps a new market is upon us. Antivation. Companies make the technology we're already used to better, (much cheaper development than "new and improved") and more reliable. If they want to expand the memory of the hardware model and increase the processor speed, great. Just don't fiddle with the basic design and interface. And, by all means, send me an annual bill to allow me the privilege of locking in my comfort zone.

   While I have not done any formal market research on this, frequent lunch and dinner chats with folks lead me to believe this is not some fanciful idea. It is a new bona-fide market. (In fact, at a recent dinner in Stockholm I listened to a smart, young university student questioning the same issue.) And I think it is growing, with a group of people who will pay the annual fee NOT to learn a new technology. 

   Before you (if you haven't already) dismiss me as being against progress. Think again. Innovation is NOT just what happens in the Silicon Valley, it is also how we use that technology in our life. Users frequently find novel, unexpected uses for technologies. But like everything, these need time to emerge, Burying the user side of the equation under your well intention, but unneeded, upgrade, is frustrating and actually counterproductive. I'm asking the large companies to engage in ANTIVATION both to accommodate what I think is a growing market of "what the hell is this" consumers, and an existing group of tech savvy people who would happily tweek the heck out of your existing app. Both of whom I guess would pay an annual "tick" not to be forced into re-engineering the technological ecosystem they've built for themselves.

   It certainly merits some thought. 

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