Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The 20 : 80 rule

When you're desperate to launch your product but it's not 100 percent ready what do you do?

Well it doesn't have to be 100 percent for a start - that's what the ‘Beta’ caveat was invented for. But it may not need to be 50 or even 25 percent ready either. The nice to have features can wait if your core feature set works, is sticky, and embodies your USP. When Apple released the iPod Shuffle they drew the line there. Screen? Nah. Radio? Nah. Alarm clock with snooze function? You kiddin’ me? It had shuffle. And lots of memory at a great price (and it looked nice too).

Products and services tend to accumulate features over time. It's easy to dream up add-on features to an existing product - whether or not they're really all that useful - and you’ve the benefit of user feedback too. It's almost impossible, without incredible foresight - and risk - to jump straight to the 'endgame' product: you bypass real world time-tested user experience, and you risk confusing people. What if the first mobile phone ever released was a GPS WiFi Bluetooth IR TV 3.5G touch screen Web / WAP browsing Mp3 video jukebox digicam videocam calculator notes calendar to-do word processor Email IM SMS MMS Push-to-talk VOIP telephone? Would you understand what the hell it was for? Would you even realise you could make phone calls with it?

Of course this could never have happened – because one can only deliver what is technically and cost-effectively feasible at the time. Yet this is exactly the issue we face in the brave new world of web2.0: We all like to think that we know mostly what the endgame looks like, and all the necessary features for success are just a few lines of code away from our fingertips.

“We offer an online community, via internet and mobile channels, API's and mashups, chat and SMS and email and IM and viral invitations and presence and photo sharing and a blogging engine and link to your Myspace page and use tags and offer free content and run competitions and viral videos and mobile TV and a rating system and ...!” Bof. What does your company do again?

Most likely 20% of your feature set represents your USP and the value you offer to your customers. The remaining 80% is mostly a way of getting traction in the web2.0 jungle. Deliver the 20% first and the 80% later.

What is MobiLuck’s 20%?
Find who is near to you. Find what is near to you. Meet them. Go there.

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