One of the pitfalls when working with innovative technologies is trying to figure out product-market fit. There’s the old apocrypha of Henry Ford that “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The Innovator’s Dilemma also attempts to tackle this issue — that you need to survive incremental improvement by taking bets on breakthrough technologies.
The movie iSteve did a great job of showing the issue of asking consumers about what they’d do with their computer and over the years, the answer was the same: playing games, doing spreadsheets, and running a calculator.
In pitching the Ubi before the Echo, the use cases seemed like Siri to most people and they brought all the baggage of Siri along for the experience. They couldn’t imagine that for a new generation, voice first would be the norm.
So, you can ask what customers want and you’ll typically get a demand for a better version of what’s currently available. If you try to listen to what they’re complaining about or what they’d really want, you can come up with new ideas.