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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Apple overtakes Rolex - reflections on market leadership

I am an ardent follower of Horace Dideu's Asymco blog, where he discusses interesting and geeky statistics pertaining to Apple and iOS.

He reported that Apple has overtaken Rolex sometime ago to become the world's largest watchmaker - both in revenue and in unit sales. Incidentally, Rolex sells about a million watches a year.

However, Apple has become market leader in the short span of just two and a half years since entering the watch market - a market for a product which is not even it's primary offering. Rolex has been in the business of watches for more than a 100 years.

It's a sobering reflection on what it takes to sustain market leadership. It reminds me of this excerpt from Through the Looking Glass

"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" [1]

You no longer have a lifetime to build a market leading brand. Nor can you justify that you need time to 'get it right'. 

Whether it's the point at which a business turns from red to black, or whether it's hitting a sales target, we give ourselves less time for success these days. One of the reasons, is because we have so much more data to inform decisions, or make midway course corrections.

On another note, you do not need to be a category expert to become a leader

Uber has never operated a cab of their own. AirBnB was never in real estate. And Apple is not a watchmaker by heritage. Swiggy is not a restaurant expert.

It just takes an idea, perfect execution and impeccable timing. And of course, getting all this right in a short time. It's not easy. But it has been demonstrated time and again, by a handful of companies, that it's possible.