"Disruptive technologies or innovations are innovations that upset the existing “order of things” in a particular industry. The usual process is a lower-end innovation that appeals to customers who are not served by the current market. With time, because the capacity/performance of the innovation exceeds the market’s needs, the innovation comes to displace the market incumbents." 
> ""...by competing against non-consumption, all they had to do was make a product that was better than nothing. And so when you have a new product, it's actually really important that the kind of customers you target, are people whose other option is nothing at all, and that way they'll be thrilled with a limited product."
DEC weren't interested in the PC market because the margins were too small. They didn't think there was money to be made by selling cheap low-end computers to small businesses and homes. So these customers were "non-consumers" because there was nothing on the market they could afford. Intel (and a few other manufacturers) saw an opportunity there and exploited it.
The rapid growth in the PC market helped Intel make their processors faster and they were able to do this at a higher rate than DEC. At some point in the mid-90s, Intel's processors became almost as fast as the mainframes they were competing with but were much cheaper. DEC and friends were dead in the water.
The exact same thing seems to be happening with ARM and Intel but with roles reversed now!
Even my own product, JotForm, is a good example. Web developers or professional designers don't need it. They can already create forms. People like teachers, secretaries, school administrators, event organizers who use jotform would have never considered online forms if there were no tools like jotform. The other alternative is non-consumption. (paper forms, manually collecting information)
I wonder what it would be like to market JotForm to a web developer. I find that web developers automatically think I can do this in X amount of time why should I pay? It's already a tough sale I can see.
But, focusing on non-technical people, this would be a great alternative, much better than doing it manually or hiring some guy to create an elaborate web system.
You've illustrated it well, you just created the tool someone is looking for to get the job done where non-consumption is the only other choice.
many many upvotes at this entire thread, I feel that it's rewiring how I think about the product and the target.
It would be very hard. That's why we don't target them.
PayPal went after eBay users first because they did not have any good way to send money. The did not try to convince vendors who can already process credit cards to use PayPal. They went after non-consumption.
When a new kind of product comes up you see all these pockets of users who are very passionate about the product because they have no other way to replace it. It is best to go after these users. They can sustain a business and if they represent a large/growing market they can grow the business.
There are lots of mail newsletter providers (mailchimp, constant contact, etc.)
They aren't trying to compete against each other. Rather, they are trying to compete against nothing -- people with no ESP.
What I have discovered is that it doesn't matter. There's room for lots of companies. All things equal, you want to be the best (which is my shorthand for "stand out from each other in a positive way for the customer's context"). But many customers just want to solve their problem, and don't care about solving their problem in the optimal manner.
As hackers, we're obsessed with the idea that the best solution wins. As an entrepreneur, I've discovered that second rate products with first rate sales and marketing will likely outshine a better product that has outreach as a secondary priority.
This used to upset me, because I was focused on the product. As someone trying to run a business, I'm looking at the company as a whole. That means that sales, marketing, product, support, organization, strategy, vision... they're just 1 component of the whole.
It makes the sales side easier if the product is unique or clearly the best.
Back to the original point -- companies don't need to stand out from each other when they are the only solution a customer has heard of.
Imagine you are a sandwich shop. When you started, you could just send your marketing by BCCing people through your gmail. Now your list is 2500 people, and you need a way to send to everyone.
You just want to send your email to 2500 people. You don't want to spend a day to compare the relative merits of mailchimp versus constant contact.
Flip the perspective (mailchimp's perspective, looking at the sandwich shop owner). Mailchimp's challenge isn't to differentiate from constant contact, but to simply communicate that they exist and can solve an existing problem.
This may be more relevant for b2b versus b2c. I confess I do not understand marketing in b2c much at all.
for arguments sake, what if a user can only send to 2349 people instead of the 2500 people, would it make them turned off because it didn't do the job completely 100%? is the job "2500 emails and no less"? I wonder if this is an optimization vs a fundamental necessity for the user.
would pricing scheme matter to a non-consumption individual? A) pay as you go B) pay monthly for 10,000 emails a month?
If 1 user needed 2501 emails and your plan only offered 2500, then chances are they would be at least a little turned off.
Pricing is really important. If a 0-3000 person list at MailChimp was $20 per month, but Constant Contact tier required (2000-10000) $50 per month, the user could say something like "MailChimp solves my problem for $20, CC is $50. I can't tell the difference so I'll go with the cheaper one."
Again, though -- I doubt there is much focus on targeting competitors' users, but are competing against the user not knowing of their existence.
MailChimp's free tier allows up to 2k list members. They know most people with lists that small won't pay for a solution. As their list grows, MailChimp can ride their success into a paid tier.
(no relation to author or project, just curious.)
Draft is a pretty good online experience though.
(And shameless plug: Draft integrates with Beeminder! http://beeminder.com/draft )
Edit: tried again and it's the first result. Weird.
"An artist is somebody who produces things that people
don't need to have but that he, for some reason, thinks it
would be a good idea to give them."
Plus, a majority of products in any given category is sold as a result of insecurity (You've probably heard of the fashion industry).
I have to worry, though, about naming problems. Draft sounds a lot like Final Draft, which serves a similar need; it's at draftin.com, which doesn't immediately come to mind when someone says "You should try this nifty writing software, it's called Draft."
Miscellaneous criticism: I have no idea of the pricing model. It's not obvious at all. The settings page is a horror: I love the idea that there's a big blob of text showing what you select, but asking people to type in the names of fonts is asking for tribble. Measuring fonts in ems instead of points is bizarre.
And the help link is an email address. Would it kill you to put up a FAQ or use the features list as documentation?
An estimation of how much your proof readers can actually read in the allotted times (i know it varies but perhaps 1000-1250 words would be better than 15 minutes).
A friends screen so I can share work without emailing.
Some of this might already have been done but its been a while since I used draft
The more bespoke the tooling, the more this tends to be true. For example, in areas like project management, which is not an inherently technical discipline, you have good project managers clinging to old tools for dear life because they were really hard to learn, they do the job, and the benefit of new tools just isn't that great (which is especially true of over-promising and under-delivering tools). Yes, practitioners use sophisticated tools, but I think they would be hard pressed to really abstract away what MS Project does for them.
Ridiculously common case.
He eventually got it right by figuring out the right customer but I think the mistake was starting with "selling a tool" instead of thinking about the actual problems. It's very possible project managers don't have a pain point when it comes to their tools (they are "good enough"). Problem and customer segment are usually tightly coupled. I could be completely wrong but I think the main discovery here was that "blog posters want to be more "professional"". Maybe because the tools are helpful but probably also a healthy dose of "journalism envy" at least initially. I think that's what I'd focus on and see if it's right (i.e. hammer the "like a pro" line)
and "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses"
The message I understood from his lecture video was develop:
1) Something that is infinitely better. My suspicion is that if you are targeting a group that already has very good tools to do the job, your product won't be infinitely better until it does feature "A-Z" like your incumbents.
2) Disrupt by targeting the non-consumption. These group of people have no other alternative to do the job or have technical understanding. Even a crappy product is better than nothing. Target this for disruption.
Is this correct? Did I miss anything?
Just because something isn't a good fit for the pro or power user, doesn't mean that it doesn't have a place in the market, or couldn't be considered good or useful.
Sure, some people might need advanced tools for their advanced workflows, but there's often a huge market in software for the everyday-man and -woman who only [writes] as a hobby.
It's not that they don't "know better", it's that their needs are different. Just like it's hard to sell an amateur tool to a professional, it's hard to sell a professional tool to an amateur.
Of course, that's not the only division. Small business vs. enterprise is another. For instance, Amazon S3 enabled an entire new class of content-based web startup. Not because it was "like having fileservers but worse", but because it served the needs of users who needed to host files, but didn't need and couldn't afford to have their own hardware. A group which was otherwise underserved in the market at the time.