Blog
By Martin Srb | 11/25/2020

Validating Ideas: Why TV makers wanted 3D but customers didn’t

Design - 3 min read

In the previous article I talked about the importance of having a vision for product development. Today I will look at why we need to validate our ideas.

Once we have a vision we can start brainstorming products or features which we could use as vehicles to advance it. The only goal at this stage is to generate a lot of ideas. Once we have those we then face the difficult task of deciding which ideas have real potential and which do not.

In 2009, the Avatar movie revealed the power of 3D technology in cinematography. 3D TV looked like a logical step forward and TV manufacturers jumped on that as the next big innovation in the TV industry. Yet by 2017, it was quite clear that 3D TV was dead. The fanciest feature is not always the right feature. Any innovation needs to address its users’ needs, fix their problems and bring them added value.

Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

- Steve Jobs

3D TV died due to a lack of relevant content, the need to wear special glasses, the high price, and the nausea the 3D experience induced in a fairly large minority of users. What worked in cinemas as an occasional experience was not suited to daily use. Apparently, people were happy enough with standard TV and were not willing to tolerate those disadvantages in exchange for a 3D experience.

So how can you make sure users will like a new product? There is no easy answer. You have to be prepared for the sad fact that more than 50 % of the new ideas you come up with will lead to a dead end. To avoid spending big money on something which lacks potential we need to validate our idea and hypothesis. Effective validation relies on obtaining relevant feedback from the user audience while spending affordable money.

In the next article we will talk about agility and how to utilize Product Discovery and Product Delivery to validate hypotheses and build the product iteratively.