Saturday, January 9, 2010

Collateral damage in tech products

I found this very interesting quote today:

So, for good and for bad, I believe Blackberry is attached at the hip to Exchange. As Microsoft loses share to Google in the enterprise, something I believe is bound to happen, Blackberry will lose share to Android as well. Wil and I are cases in, A VC, Jan 2010

Aside from the fact that it does make a very valid point on the tight coupling between Exchange Server and Blackberry technologies, therefore about the likely evolution of RIM's market share as Google increases its share of the smartphone and mail server markets, this post reminded me of a thought I've had a number of times over the past few weeks. It deals with collateral damage. Collateral damage in technology products and their adoption that is.

In 2009 I decided to try Chrome as a browser. Initially it was just this: a trial. The point of fact is that 9 or 10 months later, I'm still browing the web on Chrome. For some reason, Google's browser was "sticky" enough for me to make it my main browser, even though for the first couple of weeks I missed some of the functionality provided by Firefox add-ons like Zotero, WiseStamp for HTML signatures with my email on Google Apps, ColorZilla, add-ons with web developer tools, enhanced analytics via a GreaseMonkey based add-on... and a couple of others. These add-ons are what I call collateral damage, because my intention was not to stop using them, but because they were tightly coupled with a platform product that I ditched for a better one, they went down the drain too and I adopted other ways of doing the things that these add-ons were designed to do. Collateral damage.

In practical terms, if you're in a role of product manager / product owner, this means that:

  1. you need a constantly updated picture of the entire ecosystem of your company and its products, which means that market, product, competitor and tech watch are of paramount importance today more than ever before.

  2. the focus should be on new users as well as users you are loosing, as the former give you a fresh perspective and a fairly accurate picture of the image your business has on the market and the latter give you insights into what you could do (much) better. Both will tell you how you're doing against the competition or rather in the coopetition ecosystem of your business.

  3. your job is to cover market situation, competitive game, (potential) customer contacts (daily as Loic Le Meur was saying in a recent interview), product vision, product roadmap / phasing, product development priorities (as in prioritized backlog of user stories)

Exciting times! And by the way, do read all of Fred Wilson's post.

PS: I just love the way the Zemanta editor generates in-text links obviously doing some seriously good work in analyzing my babble. What I dislike is that Zemanta does not allow me to define the title of the post on my blog and does not support my defining categories for the re-blogging I'm doing.

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