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Law of the inhibiting lead

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Rick De Vlieger Rick De Vlieger
20-05-2013 1 min read

The law of the inhibiting lead relates to product development. It often costs a lot of money to develop a product or service. Because competitors who enter later can learn from teething problems and do not suffer from a so-called legacy, they can often develop faster than the original inventor of the product.

An example can be that the original product is built on an outdated software framework.

A well-known example of the inhibiting lead law is the fact that almost no one in Africa has a landline, but many people do have a cell phone. In Africa, an expensive landline telephone network has never been installed, but people immediately switched to mobile, while in Europe and North America the landline telephone network was still being used to the full.

The law of the inhibiting lead was already described in 1937 by the Dutch historian Jan Romein. He gave as an example the street lighting in London that operated on gas, while on the European mainland a few years later it was much more obvious to use the now widely adopted electricity.

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