“What business are you in?” Theodore Levitt, 1925-2006. First to market doesn’t make you the winner, the best offering does. A growing population doesn’t ensure a growing market, an appropriate solution to a real problem does. Products rarely hold a market to itself, alternatives and substitutes always exist. The cheapest prices don’t guarantee market share,…

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The other day when I was looking trough the archived articles in Harvard Business School’s  Working Knowledge, I happened on a piece published  on December 17, 2008 entitled ‘Ted Levitt Changed My Life.’ The author was Julia Hanna, associate editor (at the time) of the HBS Alumni Bulletin.

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The classic product lifecycle theory predicts that prices fall as competitors enter. Well, do all prices fall? Similarly, many pundits like to talk about first-mover advantage. Well, does it really exist?

An examination of e-reader market demonstrates some serious flaws in a cursory acceptance of these premises. In this article, we look at the price and product evolution of the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Apple iPad to demonstrate some finer nuances of the product lifecycle.

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