sounds a bit defeatist to me...
Not at all. Just me speaking from personal experience with several startups. That's where I learned that "innovation and "technical excellence" do not equate to commercial success.
Then there's the issue of "infrastructure."
There are tons of great ideas for doable products. The problem is that most products are no longer standalone devices. They need networks, services, and databases to make them worth owning. Laptop computers are one very good example.
Laptops really started to take off once a reliable wireless infrastructure came into existence. Prior to that they were mostly geek "convenience" toys. And now that affordable and ubiquitous WiFi is becoming a reality, laptops are finally starting to replace desktops as the preferred
form factor for personal computers. Why? Not because of innovations in the design or function of a laptop (of which there were many.) The key to widespread adoption was the fact that you could now take them pretty much anywhere and link up, mostly thanks to the big ISPs and Telcos hanging access points and cell towers all over the place.
So it's not so much the technology that made the laptop so popular. It's the infrastructure somebody else made available
that put it over the top.
One of the reason sso many of the early dotcomms failed was because critical "background technologies" (i.e. generally available broadband, secure online payment systems, etc.) weren't in place even though the dotcomm's products were often innovative, finished, and ready to roll.
I'm not knocking innovation, breakthrough design, or new ways of doing things. But I think it's
important to remember that just because something is a terrific idea doesn't also automatically mean it's a viable business.
Rocket science has its place. But many successful businesses (and virtually all successful 'new' technologies) became so by doing simple, useful, and (often) obvious things extraordinarily well.
Want to make a fortune out there? Don't bother with data gloves and augmented reality. Come up with an environmentally friendly laptop battery that will give you 20 hours run time and your future is guaranteed.
Note: As far as TED Talks
go...well...I'll confess I love 'em.
But much of what gets talked about, 'hand waved', or poetically waxed about over at TED never sees the light of day. There is a big difference between a "workable business model" and the "thrilling potential" for something.