Friday, June 01, 2012

Being First. Does it Matter?

Vidit Bhargava
What was the world's first smartphone? The world's first camera on phone? Who was the first to come up with touch-screen technology? Who invented the light-bulb? The answers to these questions might be too trivial for you to remember. But are they important? Do you really need to care about the first in businesS? Or is it the best you want?

People and companies sometimes screw themselves by selecting a really new technology for their new gadget. Evidently they want the newest and best for their gadget. The tech-world is as it is highly competitive. Also the silicon valley giants are always under threat of some passionate Stanford or Harvard Grad who'd ace them with his new upbeat ideas. Its a cut throat battle out there and coming first, getting a patent and pushing some crazy new technology into your next gadget is sure to get a lot of attention.

But what most people overlook is the fact that being first doesn't mean that it is the best. Technology, like a life form, evolves. If you try to use it before it's mature enough to be used, you will end up with a buggy gadget that never works and no one likes. But if you wait for it to evolve, you perfect it, and then harness its technology into creating something powerful and economical, you might come up with something better that'll change the world around you.

The history of the light-bulb (much in question these days, due to Oatmeal's apotheosis of Tesla) has a lot for us to learn. It is clear that Thomas Elva Edison never came up with the first light-bulb. The first we saw something of the sort of an incadenscent bulb was when Humphery Davy created first incandescent light by passing the current through a thin strip of platinum in 1802. But then that's not how we use the light bulb in our homes, do we? Edison was the first to create a bulb which was feasable for public use. It was something that wasn't expensive nor harmful. It was the best of the many light-bulbs invented before and after his version. He became successful and trumped over the 22 inventors of light-bulb before him. Today he's widely known as the inventor of the light bulb (even though there were people before him). That's the classic example of how the best technology is the one which is evolved enough to be in a product and is feasible for the consumers. Had we all been delivered Humphery Davy's Incadencent light, well.. the future would have been darker than one could imagine.

Inventing new technology is just half the work done. Successfully implementing it into a fine product is what matters.

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