One of the most valuable things in our business is Google. Whether we're searching for competitive information on a new product concept, looking for resources to help us work on a product, or searching patents, Google is ushering in an era of speed and knowledge in new product development that is stunning.
One of the first things we ask inventors who have a product concept they're submitting to us is: Have you Googled it yet? If not, DO SO NOW. Don't waste your time and our time, only to discover that your "greatest thing since sliced bread" has been on the market for 5 years and you can have one shipped to your door by half a dozen e-commerce sites.
One of the next things we ask ourselves is "where does this product fit into the grand scheme of things?" And Google is our resource there too. Whether it's Google finance to explore licensees and their senior management, Googling for technology providers (materials, possible collaboration partners, contract manufacturers, etc.), or most often, Googling to better understand the problem set and what consumers or other researchers have said about the core problem. We even use Google to research the background of the inventor (in one case we had a convicted felon propose an invention!).
Being smart about new product development is easier than ever. But being smart about it can make it harder than ever, for being blissfully ignorant is no longer a luxury afforded by a highly competitive marketplace. Sometimes seeing how high a mountain is with perfect clarity can be daunting. But sometimes, every so often, perfect clarity can show a mountain pass that is quite scalable, gorgeous, and may even contain a huge vein of gold.
As a free market fan, with a corresponding belief that perfect information makes for efficient markets, the role of the GOOG in changing the speed and quality of new product introduction is incredibly exciting...