The PhotoDrive Pro-is a portable hard drive with a high-res screen and fold-out keyboard. It is targeted at photographers both professional and serious amateur. This market has a perpetual need for storage, and benefits from the additionally functionality offered by this drive. In particular, the ability to operate in remote, dangerous or bad weather locations without risking their laptops is a valuable feature of this product. The product will be launched by targeting serious photography buffs, both professional and amateur. These early adopters will be targeted through photography media, camera stores, Amazon and other channels. There are also plans to develop the next generation of the device in order to hold market share even when the competition enters the market, which is expected within a year.
The product that I am going to bring to market is portable hard drive with a screen and flip-out keyboard called PhotoDrive Pro. The concept essentially combines several useful products, but tailors them to the high-end photography market. The base product is a portable hard drive. This will be a flash drive, and it will be available in a number of different sizes, ranging from 128GB to 1TB. Portable hard drives of this size are valuable for people are in the photography business, or even just for casual users who take high volumes of photography. Most laptops max out at 256GB so such consumers typically max out their hard drives quickly, and rely on portable drives for storage.
The second attribute of the product is that it combines storage with a screen, a flip-out keyboard and a small amount of computing power. These features allow the user to see the photographs in high definition on the spot, without the use of a laptop. Additionally, files can be named by using the keyboard. The operating system will be based on the new Google operating system, which is designed for fast boot times and efficiency of use. The product will not have anywhere near the computing power of a laptop, but will have exceptional storage and the ability to allow a photographer to display and organize photos.
Further attributes of the device will include a long battery life. This attribute comes about because the drive will use flash memory, thereby reducing the amount of movement within the device and the need for cooling. The long battery life, combined with the smaller size (because it is a hard drive and not a full laptop), will make this device more portable than a laptop, something that is valuable in the field and especially when shooting in remote, treacherous or bad weather locations. The device operates as a bridge between a conventional portable hard drive and a laptop. Many portable hard drives use USB power, so they are useless in the field without the laptop. PhotoDrive Pro-allows for the photographer to lower the weight of his or setup, while offering the high volume storage capacity a serious photographer needs.
There are a number of ways that innovation comes about. Among them is the quest for a product that slots somewhere in between two existing products (Schot & Geels, 2008). An environmental scan can identify such niches, but often the discovery of a niche is by happenstance. In this case, a family member is a self-described "serious" photographer. She is planning a cruise to Antarctica. After taking a trip to Krueger National Park in South Africa -- she's enjoying a nice retirement! -- she maxed out both her laptop and her portable hard drive. She needs a new hard drive, but made mentioned of the fact that she wishes she didn't have to carry her laptop with her on a zodiac while making landings in Antarctica and various South Atlantic islands, since surf and foul weather posed an existential risk to her laptop, and she couldn't even take advantage of its storage. I have long wondered why people take their tablets with them to tourist sites and use them as cameras, since they are so clunky and do not even take good pictures. The idea of streamlining camera equipment, while at the same time filling a functionality niche, led me to this product idea.
The product's features are its benefits -- portability, functionality, risk reduction and of course portable storage. The base benefit is portable storage, but since the PhotoDrive Pro-competes against other storage devices, the main benefits that differentiate it are the functionality and the risk reduction, followed by the portability. The functionality is superior to that of any portable hard drive, since they typically do not have any computing power. As consumer electronics companies seek to fill in niches with a variety of small, consumer friendly devices, it is unlikely that only phones, iPods and tablets will come with computer enhancements in the future. This product is a unique innovation that builds into a hard drive features that make it far more useful than any other hard drive.
Risk reduction is also a key benefit. The PhotoDrive Pro-is relatively weatherproof because of its plastic shell and few inputs. Compared with a laptop, this product is much more resilient in harsh weather. In addition, the fact that a photographer can take the PhotoDrive Pro-into any climate situation allows the photographer to leave the laptop at home if the situation dictates. Tropical rainforests, windblown deserts and frozen landscapes are some of the most photogenic places in the world, but all are hazardous to laptops, so the ability to leave the laptop at home means that if something goes wrong only the photos will be lost, not the entire contents of the laptop. The same goes for shooting in areas where crime is a concern -- a stolen hard drive is less catastrophic than a stolen laptop that has one's entire life on it, not just their pictures.
Portability and storage of course are benefits, but those are benefits that all portable hard drives share. The PhotoDrive Pro-is, because of the fold-out keyboard and the screen, heavier than most portable hard drives. Therefore, the portability factor is only superior when it allows the photographer to leave the laptop at home. Storage capabilities are equivalent to competing products. The downside is that while the keyboard is low-cost, the screen is costly, and that means that PhotoDrive Pro-does not have a cost advantage over competitors. It is a premium product with a feature advantage, and is priced accordingly.
Hausman, Leonard & Zona (1994) discuss the demand systems that drive differentiated markets. Of particular issue is that even highly-differentiated products tend to exist within a family or suite of products. This means that a product like the PhotoDrive Pro-is more likely to be produced by a company that already specializes either in storage or camera products, rather than by a new company. Thus, the competitive environment is effective shaped by any firm that could enter with a competing product, so any firm producing portable hard drives, camera equipment or even consumer electronics. As of now, there is no serious competition against this product because it fills a niche that it otherwise unoccupied, but it is anticipated that if the product is successful then the niche will become occupied.
Michael Porter (2008) described the competitive forces that shape strategy. These forces will highlight whether an industry is a profitable one in which to enter or not. The bargaining power of suppliers is generally low in consumer electronics. Most firms in the industry are merely designers and marketers who contract out the manufacturing and assembly of their product. PhotoDrive is not going to be any different. Suppliers will be source for the storage, screen and keyboard, and another for assembly. There is significant competition, both in China and elsewhere, for these types of contracts, and it is expected that if the product idea has any credibility then there will be a bidding war for the right to produce these things for PhotoDrive.
The bargaining power of buyers is also relatively low. This product fills a niche that no other product fills. The PhotoDrive Pro-is aimed at both professional photographers and those for whom photography is a serious hobby. This market is estimated to be in the millions all told, globally. These buyers are not especially price sensitive -- they tend to be willing to spend on their careers or hobbies, especially when the equipment in question adds value to their photography.
Both the threat of new entrants and the threat of substitutes is high, and these categories are where our competitors lie. If the PhotoDrive Pro-is successful, then it is expected that there will be many new entrants into this segment. The device itself will have patent protection, but the basic idea cannot be protected, and surely the competition will work around the patents to bring their own versions of this device to market. The threat of substitutes is also high. All current competitors are substitutes -- laptops, conventional portable hard drives, memory cards and sticks. While laptops…