I’ve been asked in interviews about the qualifications of a “niche device” and that term has also been mentioned and debated here several times like the iPad, Viliv, the MacBook Air. But what’s all the debate about niche products anyway?
There are so many ways to define a niche device but generally we look at it from the perspective that a niche device it is primarily for a specific target market or having a distinct appeal to a small fraction of a market.
Normally, tt’s easy to identify niche products as they exhibit rare characteristics and usually comes with superlatives — super expensive, super fast, extra large, super-powerful. Take for example that diamond encrusted iPhone 3GS or the Intel Core i7 980X Extreme Edition.
But some times, the lines are blurred. I think, devices like the Modu phone, the Viliv X70, the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and the Apple iPad falls under that category. These niche products are often too close to the borderline that a lot of people forget it’s not for everyone.
So, how do we determine if a certain niche product is targeted to you? I think 99% of the time, it’s all about the economics — if you can’t afford it, then most probably it’s not for you. That’s why there are first class seats and there’s economy.
Take for example the Viliv X70 or the Apple iPad. We’ll use the 6-way test:
- Do you own a desktop?
- Do you own a laptop?
- Do you own a netbook?
- Do you own a smartphone?
- Do you own an iPod Touch?
- Do you want something else?
If you said yes to all 6 of these questions, then it’s highly likely that you’re the target market of this niche products.
The last question is critical because of two important words/phrases — “something else” and “want”. The “something else” refers to the item that you do not have on top of the half a dozen you already own. The “want” refers to a specific appeal of a product, not a “need”.
I have a friend who does travel and culinary tours and charges 3 times more expensive than the regular tours being offered by most other travel agencies. Yet, his tours are always fully booked. He say’s it is all about the niche market — some people are willing to pay extra for the experience, not because they need to but because they want to. I agree.