It was the most advanced consumer product of the century. The industry started with its innovators located in different cities over a wide region. But within 20 years it would be concentrated in a single entrepreneurial startup cluster. At first it was a craft business, then it was driven by relentless technology innovation and then a price war as economies of scale drove efficiencies in production. When the market was finally saturated the industry reinvented itself again – one company discovered how to turn commodity products into “needs.”
They opened retail outlets across the country and figured out how to convince consumers to flock to buy the newest “gotta have it” version and abandon the perfectly functional last year’s model.
While this setup is meant to make you think Apple/iPhone etc., Blank goes on to explore the history of the auto industry and GM’s innovations in the face of a mature industry.
I often speak of the auto industry and its wild early days (Henry Ford having busted a couple of times before hitting it big) with my students. I will be sharing this piece and the follow on piece with my entrepreneurship students.
BTW, it must be noted how well presented this thoughtful piece is, with great graphics. Thank you Mr. Blank.