Launching a product is kind of like the moment of truth of a company. It is the moment to face the capricious consumer. A moment that has changed the development of many projects, for better or for worse.
Business history is full of great stories of pioneers who launched a new product that revolutionized the world. Not so famous are stories of great failures. And even less famous are the stories of dull products; those that, without being a major failure, went through the market without shame or glory.
With this post, we start a series dedicated to those who bear this burden in a company: product managers. With this purpose in mind, we will gather inspiring stories that will teach us what has characterized successful and failed launchings. These are human stories that go beyond the world of marketing.
I thought it would be a really good idea to start with the story of a remarkable, now forgotten, product. One of those that revolutionized society and that was launched under the most difficult conditions: the story of Olivetti’s Programma 101.
Computers from the 60s
Ok. Picture this. It is the 60s. The first computers had appeared during WWII to calculate ballistics and crack encrypted messages. That idea had created an industry during the 50s60s, controlled by North American companies. It was the industry of the big computers that took up entire rooms with closets full of components. IBM was the reference in the sector.
Computers were really far away from ordinary consumers. They even instilled a little bit of fear. SciFi stories from back then were about powerful computers with the ability to one-day control our lives (maybe they were not that far off, actually.)