You know the feeling when some everyday product lets you down. You wish someone could solve the problem. James Dyson does that. He is a man who likes to make things work better. With his research team he has developed products that have achieved sales of over $10 billion worldwide. In 1978, while vacuuming his home, James Dyson realized his bag vacuum cleaner was constantly losing suction power. He noticed how dust quickly clogged the pores of the bag and blocked the airflow, so that suction dropped rapidly. He set to work to solve this problem. Five years and 5,127 prototypes later, the world's first cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner arrived. James Dyson offered his invention to major manufacturers. One by one they turned him down, apparently not interested in new technology. They seemed determined to continue selling bags, worth $500 million every year. Later, Hoover's vice president for Europe, Mike Rutter, said on U.K. national TV, "I do regret that Hoover as a company did not take the product technology off Dyson; it would have lain on the shelf and not been used."
Thinking about the issue of core competency and strategic capability, what is the secret of James Dyson’s competitive advantages?
The Sea Truck, Dyson's first product, was launched in 1970 whilst he was at the Royal College of Art. Sales of the Sea Truck amount to $500 million. His next product, the Ballbarrow, was a modified version of a wheelbarrow using a ball to replace the wheel. Dyson remained with the idea of a ball, inventing the Trolleyball, a trolley that launched boats. He then designed the Wheelboat which could travel at speeds of 64 km/h on both land and water.
In the late 1970s Dyson had the idea of using cyclonic separation to create a vacuum cleaner that wouldn't lose suction as it picked up dirt. He became frustrated with his Hoover Junior’s diminishing performance: dust kept clogging the...