Quibi through the lens of JTBD

Quibi is not doing as well as expected. They have fallen well short of their subscriber target. And the app peaked briefly in the top ten downloads, but has quickly fallen out of the top 100.

Quibi’s woes are not due to a lack of funding or genius at the top—it raised ~$1.75B, was founded by Jeffrey Katzenberger and is led by CEO Meg Whitman. So what’s going on?

Let’s put on our lenses to understand.

Quibi didn’t position itself as competitor to successful streaming services like Netflix or Disney+. Katzenberger has said that Quibi isn’t about sitting down and watching TV in the evening, but about what people ages 25-35 do from “7am to 7pm” on their phones. (Link) Instead, Quibi pitched itself as content you would consume “while waiting in line for coffee.”

Below is a blank Job Definition template, something we use to assist our understanding of the crucial elements of a JTBD.

From a JTBD perspective, Quibi has only made it halfway.

When I am In line waiting for coffee I hire Quibi

What’s missing, though, is the “so I can.” A first pass at this would be something like

So I can get something interesting or meaningful out of that time, while maintaining some awareness of my surroundings.

(Think: when my child exits the school looking for me; while waiting for my coffee order to come up; or when filling up my car, and so on.)

One of the great things about the high-quality content that Quibi (and others) make is that it’s engrossing. And, in general, the more engrossing, the better. But that’s not true if you’ve got anything more to do than just immerse yourself in content. In fact, the better the content is, the worse it’s suited to situations—as in my examples above—where you need partial attention on your surroundings.

Moreover, by positioning the app on those small slivers of time in our lives, Quibi has unwittingly put themselves in a space more crowded than they think. Those small bits of semi-free time are not only crowded with video content, but other competitors outside of the video entertainment category, such as magazines (digital or analog), chatting with someone, Twitter, texting, etc.

By framing its competition in a producer-focused way—as more engaging and high-quality produced video content than YouTube or TikTok—Quibi has missed important details of the JTBD that recurs during our day. With an incomplete understanding of the circumstance of struggle, it fails to fit the actual job, and puts itself in competition with other activities outside its product category.

Quibi through the lens of JTBD and our other posts are constructed based on the principles we teach in our live, online Innovation Science Bootcamp.

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