A post written by Tor started me thinking about business and product development, especially in this age of online products. Classically, and not so many years ago, a company would have years in which to develop and maintain a new product (such as friends-reunited) and then have years to recoup any investment and of course profit!
However in the current markets, there are lots of people, with easy access to both the talent and technologies (developers and already pre-scaled technologies such as Amazon Web Services), that allows for almost any small startup to be able to deliver a globally accessible and scalable web application in essentially a very much shorter development cycle than many “classical” companies can manage.
This is less important in markets where the company is the sole provider of goods and services, such as Satellite TV in the UK (BSkyB), where as an effective monopoly the drive for innovation is less extreme, and that new entrants to the markets cannot compete so directly, and hence normal free-market conditions cannot happen.
Of course, all of this leads to the further development of “lean” development methods, and driving fast development of new products and features, where you are in a strongly competitive market.