Expert's Panel

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    What is the bigger risk: Selling an immature product and relying on your strong field service to fix it; or delaying the product until it is perfect?

  1. If you wait until the product is perfect, it will never get out into the field. Engineers or scientists will rework the product forever and it will never get perfect. You have to set a firm date and mean that it will go to market then, regardless of the perceived perfection.
  2. If you used a Market Requirement Statement to lay out the new product requirement, you have already identified your key customers. Sometimes those customers have some process development going on and they really need to get their hands on your new product. If you have excellent field service people in their region and there is a lot to gain by getting it in the customer’s hands, then it may well be worth while to take the risk on releasing the immature product. This may get you in on a 2-3 year generation change window. Bob Graham of Novellus always preached “no tool before its time”, yet he did the premature release when the potential gains were very high . . . and he usually won!
  3. In my experience we always shipped it non-perfect, with a service man in the box. And, it seemed to always work out. The competition is moving forward, even when you hold it up and your market opportunities may disappear.
  4. Not to say that Applied Materials always has the right approach, but when they were trying to get their imperfect CMP equipment in one Taiwanese facility, that had 322 applications engineers installing 5 pieces of equipment to get it up and running 24x7. As a result they gained 50% market share in two years.