When Good Companies Have Bad Ideas

More

This morning, we published the capstone of our "Killer Ideas" series that solicited the best new products from companies like Google and Under Armour, universities, and venture capital firms. We sought young ideas that hadn't reached the tipping point or become mainstream phenomena. That's how we ended up with a futuristic roster of innovations: a cancer flashlight, a shirt that measures your heart rate, and leaves that turn sunlight into fuel. In other words, we sought ideas that might or might not turn out to be, technically speaking, "killer."

The difference between a brilliant idea and an utter failure is that squishiest benchmark in business: the whim of customers. Tons of ideas look brilliant before you put them in front of somebody with a wallet, choices, and status quo prejudices. Take Google Wave, for example. It was a work of genius. It was going to change email. It was going to revolutionize online communications. Then it launched, and it did none of those things, because nobody knew how to use it, and it turned out that people like their email just fine the way it is.

In short, sometimes great companies have bad ideas.


>

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Breathtaking Tour Above the Moab Desert

Filmmaker Ian Cresswell rigs an HD camera atop a remote-controlled "octocopter" for some spectacular aerial views.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In