by Trevor McKendrick on May 23, 2012
I’ve had a small but meaningful success in the App Store the past month. It’s my biggest entrepreneurial success to date and it made me wonder why so many other things I’ve tried have failed. A week ago it dawned on me: bad distribution strategies.
The App Store solves distribution. Apple gives developers access to 175 million+ iOS users and their credit cards, as well as the easiest buying process you’ll find anywhere. All you have to do is create a product that people need and presto, you’re printing money.
This was recently confirmed to me in one of Peter Thiel’s recent classroom talks. This particular class day was about why distribution is so poorly understood but yet such a make-or-break component of many businesses. He makes the point that we incorrectly assume that the best product wins, when history gives us many examples of the opposite. An amazing product might help get you distribution, but I’ll take a mediocre product with awesome channels over a great product that nobody knows about any day.
It’s easy to see a great product and understand why it sells. The genius and hard work is there to see. But it’s much more difficult to get a feel for the skill behind creating distribution. The product is in the store and I can buy it. So what? We have no idea about the process and the deals it took to put it there. But the quality and make of the product? Those are readily apparent.
That distribution is so important should be obvious to tech people. What makes the Internet so special is that it levels the playing field for distribution. It gives the little guy access to billions of people.
Takeaway: if you’re not a developer or designer and want to add real value to a business, nail the distribution.