Skip to main content

3 Tech companies that succeed by keeping it simple

We live in a world where technology is advancing at breakneck speeds. Our latest and greatest products seem to have shorter-than-ever life cycles, and every upgrade comes with a higher price tag and more bells and whistles than we know what to do with.

Tech companies should be able to bring viable products to market in reasonable time frames, and any engineer will tell you that the more complex a tech strategy is, the longer it takes to execute.

A simple strategy also makes it easier for companies to attract investors and retain top talent. Tech entrepreneurs rely on the ability to clearly and quickly describe their products, and with a complex strategy, they aren’t able to deliver succinct elevator pitches. If they can’t easily define what their companies do, prospective employees, investors, and clients won’t view them as credible partners.

Companies that consistently succeed tend to have the least complex visions and products to communicate to customers, strategic allies, and employees. Here are three recent examples of how simplicity helped a brand better execute its goals and find success in its ultra-competitive market:

1. GreatCall Finds Its Calling

When fancy smartphones first emerged, GreatCall knew some people would be hesitant to embrace these devices with open arms — particularly senior citizens. The company’s premonition was correct: According to a 2014 Pew poll, just 18 per cent of people over the age of 65 said they owned smartphones. This demographic just wants a phone that makes phone calls.

So while everyone else was building complex and expensive devices, GreatCall created a simple, intuitive flip phone called the Jitterbug and marketed it to seniors. It has a very sparse user interface; the buttons are large and bright, and the fanciest thing it does is simulate a dial tone when it’s opened.

Now, nearly a decade later, GreatCall’s simple model is still going strong. In early December, the company acquired Lively Inc., a health monitoring company aimed at seniors.

2. Dell’s Custom-Built Success

Dell launched back in 1984 when its founder began building and selling simple computers from his college dorm room. Just one year later, the company was already offering a personal computer at a much cheaper price than IBM — its main competition.

Since then, Dell has stayed true to its simple and cost-effective identity by bringing personal computer configuration to the masses. Rather than offering take-it-or-leave-it products, the company provides simple online tools that allow customers to build custom systems that suit their specific needs and budgets.

Today, Dell says it’s the fastest-growing tech company in the world.

3. Nintendo’s Family-Friendly Appeal

In the mid 2000s, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo were each preparing to release new and groundbreaking consoles. Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 were both complex systems packed with processor power, while Nintendo’s Wii was far simpler and cost approximately $100 less.

Wii’s family-friendly interface took the world by storm, and currently, Nintendo has sold considerably more Wii units worldwide than Sony and Microsoft have of their creations.

Nintendo has thrived by making technology fun for everyone. Over the years, its controllers have had less buttons than other brands’, and the company’s most popular games don’t target stereotypical gamers looking to shoot virtual guns while hunting virtual zombies.

The key to simplicity is focusing on your core competencies and building a road map to success.

It’s imperative to plan your product evolution over a multiyear timeline and check your progress against your goals. This will help drive product development, marketing, and financing, and it will keep your market strategy on schedule.

An overreliance on complex features and expensive technology is not the best way to maintain relevance in this fast-moving environment. Keep it simple, and success will simply come.

John Horn is the CEO of Ingenu

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Nomad_Soul