The agony of being 2nd !

Wed March 28th  – 1984. A day I find difficult to forget. It was the finals of the school TT competition. We were in the fifth set –  the first 4 matches were close, very close , all the matches had run into deuce  : 29 – 27 , 26 – 28, 25 – 23 , 23 – 25 , and now we were locked in the 5th game at 28 – 27. For the 1st time our PT Teacher had convinced the headmaster to extend the tiffin break – the whole school was watching , even the teachers had taken sides. The supporters were lined up on each side of the hall. And then the inevitable happened –  after a long rally the ball nicked the net and my desperate attempt to get to the ball was not good enough – I lost the fifth set 29 – 27 and the championship. As everyone rushed to congratulate the winner  and carry him – I was left alone. Thats always the fate of being 2nd – in sports or in life. The winner gets it all.

Since then my heart has always gone out to the loser – who is so so close but yet so far. Think of PT Usha who missed her medal by 1/100th of a second. I at times even empathize with Ravan & Karna –  the stories are always the version of  the winners , who knows the truth of the loser.


One would think that the best products need to be winners – but truth is different. There are many cases where the better product gets a raw deal . Lets look at some examples.

Hindu Vs TOI

I have been reading The Hindu for the last 3 months – in comparison to the TOI its a class apart. Excellent english , thoughtful editorials , unbiased and fair , its a pleasure to read The Hindu. Look at the TOI – it feels like 90% of the paper is commercial trash , yet TOI rules on the numbers front. When I looked at recent circulation figures I was happy to see The Hindu slowly but steadily gaining market – and I hope I live to see the day when Quality trounces Crap.


LML Vespa Vs Bajaj Chetak 

The first scooter that I bought was a LML Vespa . It served me well , strong & sturdy it was indeed a reliable ride. On Quality & stability it  beat the Bajaj Chetak hollow – yet Bajaj survived and LML Vespa had to close shop. I am so happy to see that Vespa has come back with its range of scooters – I hope they do well.


Windows Vs Mac

No Virus, never crashes, better GUI, faster, integrated hardware & S/W – yet Windows rules and Mac is a distant second – wonder why, it just doesn’t sound fair .



On a blind test P&G always scores higher. Take Dove or H&S or Tide – product Quality of P&G is always superior. But when it comes to units sold HLL rules – just not fair.


Android Vs iOS 

Thats another Mac Vs Windows example. iOS is any day a superior platform but Android continues to dominate the market globally


These are just a few examples – all of us could think of many more. And I keep asking myself  the question – how come the best products don’t end up as winners ? Doesn’t sound logical or fair ! Justice Katju says 90% of Indians are dumb – can we extend that as a global paradigm ? Or is the age old marketing rationale ” Perception is Reality ” indeed true . Does massive ad spends result in “familiarity creating favourability” ?

Ever since that fateful day in March 1984 I have stuck to the No 2 guys – they try harder and are definitely the better products, so think before you act next time.

Spread A Few Good Things

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