I was in CVS the other day looking for razors and saw that the refills for the super new Fusion which is about 50% more than the Mach 3. In the spirit of saving money these days I thought why the heck am I paying for these Fusion blades? So, I bought the Mach 3s and thankfully they worked fine and no cut jugulars etc.
Last night I saw an ad for Gillette with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer imploring customers to upgrade to the Fusion. In fact, they compared the Fusion to the Mach 3. First I found it funny that they were competing with themselves for business. Then I thought that it must be because most customers are having the same thought as I am which is the Mach 3 is good enough and maybe if they did not hire Roger and Tiger the cost uptick would not be 50%.
Fact of the matter is this - as industries mature differentiation becomes a lot harder and product improvements become incremental. Gillette obviously can't keep increasing profits and customers by adding more blades. At least not at a 50% increase in price. My gut tells me the next breakthrough shaving innovation will be either a laser or some sort of growth stunting cream (think the anti-rogaine) not a 7 bladed razor.
Now what the hell does this have to do with software and portals? Well the reason the portals market growth has slowed is because more "blades" will not get more people deploying portals. So unless there is some really cool differentiating thing expect the big guys to incrementally push forward and hope that no value player like Open Source takes their lunch. Or even worse the laser razor comes ou
I will spare you the OSS stump speech here but will just mention this point .10 years ago nobody I knew was comparing SW to consumer packaged good strategies. It's amazing and somewhat scary that we have matured so fast.