Nordic Track Book Club Review: Digital Darwinism

Digital Darwinism: 7 Breakthrough Business Strategies for Surviving in the Cutthroat Web Economy by Evan I Schwartz is a light read, but an enjoyable one.  With a publication date of 1999 it’s rather dated, but there remain excerpts for you aplenty.   Ironically, most of the companies Schwartz highlights using his Darwinistic analogy of why they are well-positioned for continued survival no longer exist.  That’s okay.  1999 is many Internet Years ago.  3 out of 5 stars.


p.13 Profits enable a company to survive.  Not just revenue alone, not hits, not page views, not mentions in the press…

p.18 In the hopelessly cluttered web marketplace, trusted brands are more important than ever, and companies must never undermine that trust.  Lasting relationships with consumers and business partners are built on the exchange of information.

One website is more valuable than another because of the value associated with its brand, not its location–its properties, not its property.

p.21 You must evolve into a problem solver, identifying a specific set of issues that your customers face and developing a set of interactive services that address those problems.  In doing so, you can create a strong “solution brand” that can serve as a fortress against enemy invasion.

p.27 Time is the commodity we should be selling.  We should be creating a brand that will simplify people’s lives.

The aim is to increase how much each household spends, not necessarily to enroll as many households as possible.  “We’re focused on increasing our share of customer,” he says, “not our share of market.”

p.31 “My daughter learned how to write her name of a Macintosh when she was 3,” says Mathews.  “I can’t imagine that, as an adult, she will be lugging home Tide from the Supermarket.” 

“Your brand,” says DeMello, “is your promise to the customer.”

p.34 Consumers are not looking for more choice.  They have enough product choice already.  Rather they are looking for made-for-me solutions.

p.36 The second pillar of building brand equity is establishing brand relevance.  Does this brand speak to me?

p.40 The longer you let your competitors define what the new context is, the harder it becomes to reposition the brand in the new context.

The brand manager of the future is like an air traffic controller.  It’s all happening in real time.

p.116 Dominate a niche market.  The value bundles that have the best chance of survival are the ones that don’t try to be everything to everyone, but rather concentrate on a specific subject area with a specialized audience.

p.122 We’re heading to a world of networked production in which you’ve got to be the best at what you do, and only do what you’re best at.  The lesson: your company must develop some set of core capabilities that you can do better than anyone else and everything else must be subcontracted and produced by teams of companies working together across networks.

p.152 For customers, finding the perfect appliances and cabinets and such is the easy part.  The hard part is finding someone who will install everything properly, on time, and at a reasonable price.  For a cybermediary to bring that true value to the transaction, it needs to see the customer through the entire process.

p.183 In the end, you must evolve into the ultimate hybrid enterprise, finding new ways to integrate everything that your company does online with everything that it does offline.


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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.