Good enough

I was reading a post over the weekend by Seth Godin about product design. I’m a firm believer in building products that stand out and his Purple Cow theory is a great background text. The discussion today does refine this though, talking about how your product must fit and evolve such that early adopters (the geeks of you particular market) will rave about it – but the mass market, the followers, will still buy it. If they don’t, then those early adopters will quickly be early adopters of something else and your audience will dissolve.

3031864510_d8046efab6So for mobile, what happens here. The mass market is the most difficult part to crack (as with all markets) but for different reasons. Take the music market – the main problem is the huge number of established artists and the sheer volume of albums released. You need to have an existing audience or be featured on iTunes.. For books, well, the Opera Book Club says it all. For mobile, there are a smaller number of applications launched but man, are there a lot of problems with making it available. CDs and MP3s can be played on every music system there is, books just need to be sat 1 – 2 feet in front of your eyes.

If you want to make an application that runs on many, many devices it’s a tough nut to crack. You can make a very simple website but it’s going to be pretty plain. It’s likely just a feature of something larger – e.g. an eBay site to check your bids. You could write an app, but probably just for one family of mobile devices – if you’re lucky or bland, maybe more. Of course, there are companies with excellent porting tools, but with the plethora of screen sizes and capabilities is it really going to be remarkable?

Or do you focus all your efforts on one platform as we see many companies today doing with the iPhone? You can address that crossover segment of both the early adopters (er, fanboys?) and now the mainstream $99 3G market. But you’re just one in 50,000 apps – you’d better have an existing mainstream brand or you’ll have to be *really* remarkable..

I think we’ve reached a point where we have to treat mobile products as real products. They have to stand alone. This means that we need to understand the benefit of using the product for each segment that wantsneeds it. I suspect that when we start to narrow down our segments to the point that we understand why this product makes their lives faster / cheaper / better then the choice of device and technology will be obvious.

A product that is good enough to be used every day has to be remarkable enough to be discovered in the first place.


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