No one wants to miss the next "I" platform

It was almost exactly eight years ago that Apple detonated a nuclear bomb inside several industries by launching the first mass market smartphone. At the time, it was remarkable to see for how long other companies ridiculed the computer maker's entry into telecom; I distinctly remember being in Waterloo visiting RIM a year after its introduction and having a high level executive tell me that he couldn't wait for this "touch screen fad to blow over" because he was sure it would. Indeed of the established vendors, none thought this was a serious threat for at least a couple of years, and only Android (not yet released and bought by Google for its people) understood how important it was to pivot quickly to the flat glass form factor.

My how times change. It hasn't even been a full year of the smartwatch as a potential platform (which I'd call as starting with the Apple Watch this summer) and already the big guys are on to more compelling second versions and even "non traditional" players are getting into the mix. What is amazing in this category is that no one is sure that the smartwatch will even be a big platform and yet companies are investing.

And a little closer to home, in VR we went from being laughed at in 2013 to at least three big companies chasing Oculus/Facebook's tail light within a year (Sony, HTC-Valve, Microsoft). It certainly feels like the time to jump on the platform bandwagon has decreased, in both of these cases well before the platform is considered to have gained critical mass.

Does this make sense? Absolutely, especially if the next one of these platforms that hits is even a tenth as successful as the smartphone. Quite likely though what will happen is that neither will, nor will any of the other half dozen big bets being made by companies large and small today, at least not certainly within the timeframe of eight years. And when people have forgotten the lesson of how big something can get when all of the ingredients are just right (after all smartphones were attempted long before 2007), something will break through and delight, amaze, and surprise us yet again!