Yesterday I met with a cool company named Slide Rocket that has a very slick product. Based on Adobe Flex, SlideRocket has built a web based PowerPoint alternative that some equate more to Apple’s Keynote (plus it has collaboration built in). One reviewer even said: “The entire interface is, dare I say it, gorgeous. It’s slick, smooth, gentle on the eyes, and all Flash based so everything works as soon as you want it to. If anything, it actually seems to work better than PowerPoint offline.”
Clayton Christensen’s big “aha” in Innovator’s Dilemma is that eventually a product will become over-featured and as a result feature growth will slow, and along with it innovation. One subtlety of this is that it allows others to catch up and basically recreate the same thing for a fraction of the cost. In SlideRocket’s case, it appears that a team of 3 engineers with primary work done by the founder, have recreated PowerPoint (leveraging Flex of course).
Now I don’t know exactly how much R&D dollars have been spent on PowerPoint over the years, nor exactly how many engineers, but i suspect its in the billions of dollars, and thousands of engineers. This may mean that we have something like a 4 orders of magnitude difference in investment to achieve a similar (or perhaps better according to this review) product feature set. Wow.