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January 15, 2013

Product Development : the Right Balance of Cowardice

Should You Design a New Browser?


No, unless you are Microsoft, Google, Baidu, Tencent, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, Adobe, Oracle etc.

On the other hand, if you are at that level, why not?
If you're Samsung, you should invent even a  new programming language, such as Bada.

Should You Design a New Facebook or Amazon?


No, unless yours is a big country like China, India, Brazil or Indonesia.
But we have Facebook clones in China, Korea, Japan, and even in Vietnam, right?

Reasons Not to Design


There are many valid business reasons: high upfront costs, long payback period, very high breakeven points etc.

Also, if your new features are not essential, mission-critical to users, if they are not decisively better than the incumbents. eg. Facebook doesn't allow embedding images inside text in many places; your app may be able to enable this features; but this alone won't enable you to dislodge Facebook. But what if you can design a better, far better advertising platform than that of Facebook?

Yeah, there can be many more valid reasons.

I just don't want you to give up so easily, so early.

From my own personal experience, what I hate most is naysayers with unbalanced cowardice. Such people display a lot of symptoms described in books on panic/anxiety attacks. They bow down to their own emotions too easily and never bother to examine their beliefs and assumptions behind their feelings. Let alone refute those beliefs and assumptions, as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would recommend.

Let's say, we are doing another Facebook. Instead of killing the idea outright, let's attack it semi-systemically or pseudo-systemically:
  1. At prototype level, that is easy, An example here.
  2. Do we have "killer" features, loads of them?
  3. Can we scale it?
  4. Can we promote it, market it?
Step 1: Many people don't know that even a single programmer/author can clone TinyURL, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook for fun. That's exactly what Chang Sau Sheong did in his nice book  Cloning Internet Applications with Ruby. And he did so with a relatively new, immature, and adventerous technology!

Step 2: Let's assume you have such features in mind. e.g.a far better advertising platform as I mentioned above.

Step 3: How far do you need to scale in the first days/ weeks/months/years? Do you know that even Zuckerberg kept Facebook's growth in check in its early and not so early years so that it can grow in a more stable manner? And if you are earning well, won't that earning pay for the need to scale?How many dozens of data centers are you going to need?

Step 4:  What else can be better promotions than demos and centuries-tested word of mouth?

Be fearful, but be balanced.

The more your faith grows,
the more you let things flow,
the more you love, with them,
to flow.

1 comment:

  1. Singapore Python user Group on Google Plus

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/?tab=wX#communities/118114396443813227324

    ReplyDelete