Comic Book Advice: What You Are Not

“How many superheroes are known for what they can’t do? Superman can fly and lift up buildings. Batman is ridiculously smart and has got all the technology in the world. Spiderman can spin webs and swing across buildings. Daredevil is blind. He can’t see. That is his distinguishing feature. “

-Frank Miller, Penciller and Writer for Daredevil

I feel like I need to explain this one a little. I really like this quote, because there are products and services that people like for what they can’t do. The first thing I thought of was the original Palm Pilots. I think they became popular because of what they couldn’t do. I know I am stretching this one a bit, but people liked Palm because it was a device dedicated to do a specific set of tasks.

I think media without advertising is another example. Cook’s Illustrated and The Believer are examples of this. Both are charging a bit more for the product, but in exchange, you get a magazine that is pure content. This may be a better example of being known for something you don’t have.

Please help me. There have got to be other examples to shore up this line of thought.

3 thoughts on “Comic Book Advice: What You Are Not

  1. Todd,

    I think that any example of what Clayton Christensen described as disruptive technologies – stripped-down, convenient versions of existing technologies designed for low-end users – would qualify under your definition. The Palm Pilot’s real beauty was its ability to support manual input without a lengthy handwriting training period, which killed most PDA products that preceded it.

    At the other end of the scale, people join private clubs because they are not open to the public.

  2. Todd,

    You’ve got me racking my brain on this one. I’m pretty sure I know what you’re talking about, just can’t seem to think of anything that is really perfect.

    I have a rechargeable mower, I bought it for what it doesn’t have – a gasoline engine.

    I think this is what Juno/United Online was selling with their cheap dial-up, sort of the anti-AOL. Just a connection, nothing else that you don’t need.

    If you come up with more, let us know. This is a great question.


  3. Like Jon, at first I felt stumped. Here’s an obvious one (D’oh!):

    Google is valued for its sparse home page, lack of banner ads and other extras that Yahoo has.

    I also value Google *not* being a public company, one that can focus on what people want, rather than maximizing revenue.

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