In commercializing a new product, market-entry timing is critical. Suppose a company has almost completed the development work on its new product and learns that a competitor is nearing the end of its development work. The company faces three choices:
1. First entry: The first firm entering a market usually enjoys the "first mover advantages" of locking up key distributors and customers and gaining reputa-tional leadership. But, if the product is rushed to market before it is thoroughly debugged, the product can acquire a flawed image.
2. Parallel entry: The firm might time its entry to coincide with the competitor's entry. The market may pay more attention when two companies are advertising the new product.
3. Late entry: The firm might delay its launch until after the competitor has entered. The competitor will have borne the cost of educating the market. The competitor's product may reveal faults the late entrant can avoid. The company can also learn the size of the market.
The timing decision involves additional considerations. If a new product replaces an older product, the company might delay the introduction until the old product's stock is drawn down. If the product is highly seasonal, it might be delayed until the right season arrives.35
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