Royalty Free Stock Photo: Hype concept. Image: 26125495

In the Seinfeld comedy series, the Elaine character had a running gag about whether a guy was or wasn’t “sponge-worthy”.  Based on the buzz at CES this week, the hype-worthiness of the offerings is equally problematic.  Seems that killer products are, not unlike truly great athletes or musicians (or sponge-worthy partners for Elaine), pretty rare.  Wired magazine’s Mark McClusky makes the point in a recent piece about the apparent dearth of outsize ideas in Silicon Valley today.  And who can argue? Those of us who can recall the advent of personal computers, the dawn of networking, and the emergence of search engines and smartphones can’t help looking back in awe at those breakthroughs.  They seemed to happen with a regularity and frequency unknown today.

We’ve arrived a moment when “outsize ideas” and the innovations they spawned have given way to something far less hype-able.  In economic terms the old model of building a company, taking it public and then striving to churn out killer products happily ever after has been supplanted by the current era in which the new, new thing is essentially the new add-on or the new social game.  While cloud computing and Big Data have re-made the digital world in which a lot of people have grown extravagantly wealthy, how sustainable is it?  How much real wealth and how many jobs will more apps and add-ons actually create for the rest of us? In McClusky’s view: “Sooner or later, we’ll have more add-ons than things that need to be added on to, and more solutions to small problems than there are small problems”.

The world has never been in greater need of changes-for-the-better.  It’s time for some outsize thinking about how to product-ize these changes.  Now that would be worth the hype.

When Stan DeVaughn isn’t venting in this blog, he and Peter Davé at Write Angle ensure that technology companies prove it — as opposed to hype it — in all marketing content.

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