It's a short read and well worth the time. I wish I'd read it before I'd built one of my products. If I had I wouldn't have wasted the development time.
The core message is that you shouldn't compete against an established market leader head on. It outlines a number of different approaches you can take.
Great book on the subject (Amazon link but I'm not an affiliate):
One of the interesting ideas the author postulates is, to put it in CS terms, that people's minds work like a dictionary. Each key associates with one and only one value. And, in this case, the key is a concept, need, category, etc.
If you ask someone in the US to name a plumber they'll probably answer "RotoRooter" without hesitation. Fast food? "McDonalds". Rental car? "Enterprise". Fast car? "Corvette".
The values side of the relationship isn't necessarily uniform across a population but some keys have more uniformity than others (Fast Food).
Once a person makes that key:value association it is really, really hard to break it, if not impossible. Politics tends to work that way too.
In the case of the web, the vast majority of people make the following key:value pair association:
And that's the end of the story.
Regarding the first one: "changing your mind is one of the most difficult things we do" -- changing our mind is almost impossible; changing other people's is down right impossible.
- It's possible to influence people before they have made up their mind.
- It's also possible to reframe / rename / re-position a subject, so that it becomes a new category about which people don't already have an opinion. Politicians do it all the time (most people are opposed to torture, but "enhanced interrogation techniques" sound both useful and reasonable, for example). Marketers also do it, sometimes, but they should do it more.
On this last topic, this book is absolutely fantastic:
It explains why brand extension is almost always a bad idea ("Google Play", OMG!!!!), and why "7Up: the uncola" is genius.
The best lie is a half truth.
"Max" the reason people read your articles is because you've said you make $40K a month from niche iphone apps.
Mark (lets drop the pretense) you sound like you have read Positioning by Ries, A. and Trout,J (http://www.amazon.com/Positioning-Battle-Your-Al-Ries/dp/044...).
Your positioning this "Max" character as the idealized serial entrepreneur. Globe trotting, living in 5 star hotel, identifying markets, working out those
niche products. I'm sure that idealized person is something many people here want to replicate.
That's only half the story though isn't it? The reality is your $40K a month is made from these apps (http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/feather-moor-ltd/id3053457...)
1 star apps with content ripped from sites like ehow.com. Lets not forget that feather+moor are your creation as well.
Would people read 37signals in the same light if they actually made their money by running casino affiliate sites?
Would people read joel on software in the same light if he actually made his money from porn sites?
Would people read Paul Graham articles in the same light if he actually made his money selling teeth whitening ads?
You are not hiding your identity because of privacy, your hiding it because the reality of your success doesn't fit with the image you've created for Max.
"Max" is not real because he is only half the story.
It talks about the importance of standing out in your marketplace, because consumers want simple purchasing decisions so will only, at best, compare the top few.
It was THE marketing book of the 80s, and it's still extremely relevant today. It's quick read, too.