Look at who is on top today in whatever category makes sense for you. Social networking. Search. Mobile OS. Tablets. Storage systems. Operating systems. Printers. You name it. You would be hard-pressed to see those companies having talked big about taking down number one when they were on their pathway to success. They probably didn’t do it at all.
I’d extend it even past tech. Building a business to beat an existing one is the wrong framework. It forces you to solve the wrong problem. That’s because in any industry (but especially so in technology), the temporary winners are the ones that completely change the game.
Joseph Schumpeter called it Creative Destruction:
Creative Destruction is the force that sustains long-term economic growth through radical innovation. There’s a bit of a downside that comes with creative destruction: the fact that it completely obliterates the value of established companies that enjoyed a certain degree of monopoly power. This is what causes continuous progress and improves the standards of living for everyone.
As Merlin Mann wrote:
Here’s my point: businesses don’t get to pick the timetable for when their preferred model takes a permanent dirt nap.