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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Introducing the next (blank) killer.

Pop quiz hotshot: You have a product in a category defined by someone else, what do you do? Go all in and take on the leader... or risk becoming marginalized. An obvious dynamic of many categories, but tech seems to be the only one that relies on actual “(insert product) killer” wording. I’ve never heard Subway called a Wendy’s killer, or Dodge a Toyota killer. Even though auto and fast food have their share of parity brands, they also have category leaders that competitors take shots at — they just don’t use that particular phrase.

Some brands might be content with laying low, where owning even 10% of a very large market is fine when compared with trying to replace the category leader outright. Not a bad concept in theory, but reality is different in tech.

Hello Zune. Hello how many other brands trying the same approach who have failed.

Look at Apple and Google. Are there two brands that have had the number of competitors position themselves as direct threats the way they have?

The latest attempt comes from Samsung’s new Galaxay Tab *viral* making blog rounds. David Burn’s take is that you don’t need humor to attack Apple. If you’re filling gaps left by the iPad, shouldn’t you just tell us without trying too hard for laughs? Then there’s the latest mobile brand to take on Apple, T-Mobile and their iPhone killer myTouch. The spot below has a humorous vibe their past spots are known for while also hitting Mac vs. PC territory:

Take Google. You see it in search where Bing et al. continue to make inroads against them. The trend continues this coming week as Facebook releases its own Gmail-killer called Titan. Given their habit of new releases that also seem to include major privacy issues, how long though before the first person Tweets™ that Titan just released all of their email and contact info to the world.

Cue Titanic hitting Google iceberg.

Does this approach work? It’s like the wide receiver who taunts the other team by thumping his chest after scoring a TD – except that his team is still down 35-10 with two minutes left in the game. I can’t remember the last time a brand that positioned itself this way actually lived up to the hype and took over.

Is it ironic or just a given that the majority of so-called *killers* end up dead or dying?

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