Can’t touch this…

Recently I was flying JetBlue minding my own business when the actions of a passenger a few rows away caught my attention.  As you are probably aware, JetBlue shows free TV on all of its flights.  The small screen is tucked in the head rest in front of you with controls on the arm rest.  As the flight climbs from the runway a welcome video begins to roll.  

And this is when that passenger caught my eye.  He was tapping away on the screen.  Touch, touch … ok, maybe not the middle of the screen so check the corners … touch, touch.  No, the corners don’t respond either.  Then finally he realized that touching was a no go.  He glanced around the seat and finally found the push button arm rest controls. 

What in the world does this have to do with company building?  While I will not lay the reaction of the passenger at the feet of the iPhone/iPad it is clear that we now believe glass + touch = action.  The market is now conditioned to a certain experience in interacting with technology.  

When building your next great startup what are the basic assumptions of the market you are attacking?  You may be looking to change the game entirely but you still have to be ready to understand how the current market and its expectations will impact your success or failure.  If you fail to engage the basic expectation or clearly light the path forward you will have placed your company in the position of dealing with potentially unnecessary obstacles to adoption.  This is not just a UI issue, almost every area you deal with from market message to functionality carries basic assumptions and expectations.

Clearly, it is important to take note of the environments you will attempt to influence!  If everyone around you is ‘touching glass and expecting an action’ and you produce ‘glass without action’ you are already starting with a deficit.  It is also notable how quickly basic customer expectations change and new table stakes appear.  As fast as markets and indeed whole industry segments move make sure your plan can factor in, keep pace with and even drive the change.  You certainly don’t want to find your customers touching away and coming up empty.