I love Scrabble. My husband loves Scrabble. We own five or six Scrabble games: one deluxe edition, the Cubs edition, a travel version, a plain old regular version, etc. A few years ago, people were playing a Scrabble-ish Â game, “Scrabulous,” like mad on Facebook. Problem was, that app was not developed by Scrabble, so Hasbro sued for copyright infringement and the app was removed. No worries; other Scrabble lookalikes have popped up in its wake.
People still play word games on Facebook but the “in” thing right now is to play on your phone. The most popular app is called “Words with Friends” and it allows you to play with other friends who are online, or to play with random folks if your friends are all too scared to play with you (yeah, I’m talking to you, Wendy!). Take that! Triple Word Score with an “X” on a double letter tile! (Words with Friends for iPhone/iPad here, and just released for Android phones here.)
Hasbro has been criticized for not digitizing their game fast enough or providing it in all the various digital formats their customers want. Their response?
â€œHasbro innovates, but we innovate when we know thereâ€™s a real market,â€ according toÂ Mark Blecher, senior vice president for digital media and gaming for Hasbro. Mark, Mark, Mark. I realize “innovate” is only an 11-point word and hardly worth your time, but to innovate is to lead, to come up with something new. You just admitted that you follow the market. WTH?
Do you think housewives were screaming for a microwave when it was created? Think they were just sitting around waiting for someone to come up with a way to nuke their food into dry, hot, rubbery messes? Do you think the folks who created the Internet were going where there was already an established market? Cuz really, there were so many people sitting around with broadband connections just wondering what to do with them 50 years ago.
If you wait until there is already a “real” market, you run the very real risk of becoming the market loser. Just ask Borders.
p.s. Read more of this story at the New York Times. I’ve been very pleased with their tech and social media coverage lately.