Viewing entries tagged with 'great products'
In the early 1980’s, I was a very young software developer working at HP Labs, and this was when personal computers had been out just a few years. The computers were getting faster and more powerful every few months, yet users really struggled to interact with them. The head of our research lab, Joel Birnbaum, posed the question: “Why do most people not like their computers?”
This time of year always gets me thinking about the nature of great products. Recently I was forwarded an article on Apple and the caption of a photo of an iPhone had this great line "Pleasure is Not the Absence of Pain."
Article by Martina Lauchengco and Marty Cagan
For as far back as I can remember, it wasn’t enough to have a good product, you also needed a strong sales person to get the customer to actually commit and sign the check. In fact, the lack of skilled sales people was and remains the limiting factor for many companies. As a product person, this has always frustrated me. I never liked having someone between me and my customers, but I understood the need for the sales person to maintain “account ownership.” But it doesn’t mean I liked it. In fact, for me personally, one of the big attractions of consumer internet services over enterprise companies is the free access to my customers. I don’t have to worry about some key influencer deciding he prefers the wining and dining from our competitor’s sales person over our own.
One of the most difficult - but highest leverage - types of product management is to define successful platforms. By platforms, I am referring to foundation software that is used by application developers to create end-user solutions. Examples include operating systems (e.g. Windows, MacOS, Palm OS), operating environments (e.g. Java, Flash), Web services (e.g. Amazon’s or eBay’s integration API’s), and game developer platforms (e.g. XNA).
I’m frustrated by the state of the Enterprise Software industry, and I have been for quite some time. While there are some notable exceptions, I find fewer examples of good products in this space than any other. Many people view the enterprise software market as “mature” or worse, but I think customers are just frustrated and aren’t anxious to spend yet more money on more disappointing products. And they’re just not willing to dish out hundreds of thousands of dollars – or even millions – on “professional services” just to get them working.
In the last issue I wrote about the role that domain expertise plays in product management, and I alluded to deeper differences in types of products. For more traditional types of products, such as Enterprise Software, these differences are fairly well-known. But for consumer internet services, this is new enough that I thought I’d share some of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from doing large-scale internet services at Netscape, AOL and eBay, and working with clients at several other major internet service companies.