By Jill McCubbinAlthough conventional business practice – especially tech business where “first mover advantage” is a mantra – states being first to market creates competitive advantages, reality proves more complicated. John Tozzi’s Small Biz, BusinessWeek article Think Twice About Being First to Market offers sound advice to those thinking about launching new products into the volatile 2009 marketplace. John’s key statement from his article about timing your company’s product launch:

“In a hostile learning environment, entrepreneurs gain relatively little benefit by watching others. For example, if the relevant knowledge is protected intellectual property, studying the market before entering wouldn't yield much advantage. In these situations, the trade-off favors entering early. But in less hostile learning environments, where entrepreneurs gain valuable information likely to increase their success just by watching other companies, companies benefit from waiting and learning lessons from earlier players.”

Apple’s App Store was launched after massive pre-launch hype, at a huge press event and was a “first mover advantage” success. Stock charts for Apple after the launch tell the ongoing story of Apple’s successes as my colleague Nathan Rudyk points out in his blog post here. Rim launched the second “global” App store, called Blackberry App World. The Blackberry App World launch profited by lessons learned from Apple’s App Store’s profile building. Walt Mossberg, author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, described his Blackberry App World experience and summarized his article with this point:

“BlackBerry fans unfamiliar with the iPhone won’t care about some of these comparisons, of course. They will, and should, just be happy that their phones are now much richer and more versatile devices. And, in the end, that’s what counts. RIM is now truly in the platform game, which will make its products more attractive and could make its shareholders richer.”

David Pett’s recent National Post article, Research in Motion ready to ride the rapids, describes RIM successes. Jim Suva, Citigroup Global Markets analyst, maintains his "buy" rating on RIM stock and left his US$100 price target (from today’s price of $92.33/share) unchanged. Second-mover advantage anyone?
(Jill McCubbin is a conversation architect with market2world communications inc., Ottawa, Canada's tech PR and product marketing agency.)