“The Internet changed everything,”said Lucas Wang, founder of HWTrek, a funding platform for hardware projects, at the Computex Forum. The Internet has not simply changed industries but supply chains too, he added. Taiwan-based ODM and OEM manufactories industries, which have been dominated by Wintel, would gradually see their roles diminished in the new field, forecast Wang. Instead, smaller businesses in China’s Shenzen, including Alibaba or many other agents could take over their place, he noted.
The Internet generation emphasizes speed. Businesses that first satisfy the needs of consumers are likely to gain most advantages in the market. Under this trend, the process of releasing new products has to be further simplified because being fast is everything. Many startups in the United States spend only seven to eight months on a new product before bringing them to the market, according to Wang. In the past, it could take longer than that simply to go from coming up with an idea to submitting it to manufacturers.
Take Oculus Rift, a wearable device for 3D gaming, for example. Its developer was bought by Facebook for US$200 million less than two years of establishment. Developed by University of Toronto, the other product known as Myo is an armband that detects gestures through muscles of the arm. Its pre-order revenue totals US$3.7 million in less than two years as well.
Products developed based on the Internet become the market winner without any signs and so quickly that competitors can hardly react. Take China-made Moji Weather for example. The hugely popular weather forecast mobile app in China had only one more extra features than its counterparts – the air quality forecast covering all county-level cities in the country. The app recorded 300 million installs and daily users of 100 million. To tap into the popularity, the developer released an air quality sensor that costs 999 renminbi yuan.
Many online tools are the forces behind products’ rapid release, including a popular public fundraising site Kickstarter. Over 100,000 products have raised funds on this platform that totally changed customers and channels since its launch three years ago. The funds secured on the site totaled US$550 million, with more than 6,000 hardware projects accounting for 30% of the total amount. Wang’s HWTrek is also a significant tool that helps to accelerate hardware project matching.
What’s special about hardware products in the Internet era? Five things to look for are “materialization of fashion,” “user interface,” ”supremacy of consumers,” “hardware plus services” and “business value of big data,” Wang pointed out. Wintel’s market share first surged from 23% in 1993 to 98% between 1998 and 2005, but dropped to 35% in 2012. The fluctuation means that it no longer has absolute dominance and everyone gets a chance. As long as one makes good use of different kinds of online tools and resources, it is not as difficult as imagined to stand tall on the world stage.