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charlesarthur : product   10

August 2008: Why Apple doesn’t do “concept products” « counternotions
"Counternotions":
<p>Why would a commercial entity like Apple produce a concept product? Apple is likely generating more concept products and visions than any other technology company for internal use. When Apple wanted to get into retail stores, for example, Jobs had Ron Johson build a fully-functioning, real-size prototype and tore it down at the last minute to rebuild a new one. Why didn’t Apple release the “concept store” to the then-deeply-skeptical press in order to “demonstrate visionary leadership”? In a similar situation Microsoft likely would have.

Product design, above all, is a bet. Apple understands this better than any other company. In iPhone: The bet Steve Jobs didn’t decline, I explained just what a huge bet the iPhone project was to Apple in 2005. It was a bet-the-company kind of bet. One that Nokia, which has sold hundreds of millions of phones over many years, never took. Neither did Microsoft. They would just as well release annual concept products to the public in order not to go through the pain of taking a bet.

Apple bet the company to single handedly change the industrial design of mobile devices, how we interact with them, the balance between carriers and manufacturers, mobile application vending, etc. Indeed, it simply redefined what a mobile device is to become.</p>


This was linked from John Gruber's <a href="https://daringfireball.net/2020/01/concept_electronics_show">meditation on the "Concept Electronics Show"</a>, which is also worth reading, but this is a great piece in its own right.
design  product  marketing 
17 days ago by charlesarthur
Google’s constant product shutdowns are damaging its brand • Ars Technica
Ron Amadeo:
<p>It's only April, and 2019 has already been an absolutely brutal year for Google's product portfolio. The Chromecast Audio was discontinued January 11. YouTube annotations were removed and deleted January 15. Google Fiber packed up and left a Fiber city on February 8. Android Things dropped IoT support on February 13. Google's laptop and tablet division was reportedly slashed on March 12. Google Allo shut down on March 13. The "Spotlight Stories" VR studio closed its doors on March 14. The goo.gl URL shortener was cut off from new users on March 30. Gmail's IFTTT support stopped working March 31.

And today, April 2, we're having a Google Funeral double-header: both Google+ (for consumers) and Google Inbox are being laid to rest. Later this year, Google Hangouts "Classic" will start to wind down, and somehow also scheduled for 2019 is Google Music's "migration" to YouTube Music, with the Google service being put on death row sometime afterward.

We are 91 days into the year, and so far, Google is racking up an unprecedented body count. If we just take the official shutdown dates that have already occurred in 2019, a Google-branded product, feature, or service has died, on average, about every nine days.

Some of these product shutdowns have transition plans, and some of them (like Google+) represent Google completely abandoning a user base. The specifics aren't crucial, though. What matters is that every single one of these actions has a negative consequence for Google's brand, and the near-constant stream of shutdown announcements makes Google seem more unstable and untrustworthy than it has ever been. </p>


Wellll.. as someone who once <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/22/google-keep-services-closed">tried to catalogue all the Google products and services that had opened, closed and/or survived</a> (the mean lifespan was 1459 days, ie just under four years), I can't say that many of these closures have harmed my opinion of the Google brand. Though I did think then that it would harm developers' view of Google services' reliability. Perhaps this is a trope. But is it true?
google  product  graveyard 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
Google Maps will let you chat with businesses • The Verge
Dieter Bohn:
<p>shall we make the easy joke that Google can’t seem to stop launching new messaging platforms while its primary messaging platform strategy is still a mess? Yes, yes we shall. Hangouts is dead for consumers and Allo is “paused” and RCS Chat still hasn’t launched here in the US across all major carriers. Neither AT&T nor Verizon will commit to a launch date. (I asked them both this week.)

I bring up RCS not just for the cheap shot, but also because it’s a good example of how “business messaging” is quickly becoming big business. It’s part of the plan for RCS Chat, it exists inside Facebook Messenger and iMessage, and it’s a big part of the eventual business plan for WhatsApp. So it makes sense that Google would want to be in this space and, honestly, it makes some sense to put it inside Maps instead of in another messaging app. As Google notes, it keeps your business chat messages separate from your personal messages.

So let’s leave messaging aside and give Google this one. It can’t push harder on business messaging inside Android Messages, because it can’t leverage RCS, because it ceded control of its message platform to the whims of its carrier partners. Putting business messaging inside Google Maps is a good solution in that context. And anyway, this messaging feature already existed and the news here is simply that you can get to it inside Google Maps.

But that leads me to my third feeling: what the heck is going on with Google Maps? It is becoming overburdened with so many features and design changes that it’s becoming harder and harder to just get directions in it. There’s Group Planning, there’s a social-esque “follow” button for local businesses, you can share your ETA, there’s a redesigned “Explore” section, and there’s almost no way to get the damn thing to show you a cross street near your destination without three full minutes of desperate pinching and zooming and re-zooming.</p>

Product hits maturity; revenue growth slows; team in charge still has old growth targets, plus needs to justify their existence. (To <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRyanFord/status/1062970599671099392">quote Ryan Ford</a>, a product designer.)
Google  maps  chat  product 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Hello. tbh, We’re Moving On • Facebook Newsroom
<p>We wanted to let you know that we are shutting down three apps due to low usage: Moves, tbh and Hello.

• We launched Hello in 2015 for people using Android in Brazil, the US and Nigeria. It enables people to combine information from Facebook with contact information on their phone. We will be deprecating Hello in a few weeks.<br />• In 2014, we bought the fitness app Moves. It records your daily activity — including walking, cycling and running. We’re deprecating the Moves app and Moves API on July 31.<br />• Facebook acquired tbh in 2017. It’s an anonymous social media app for high school students in the US.
Facebook will delete the user data from all three of these apps within 90 days.</p>


Who wants an anonymous social media app? Oh yeah, those used to be a thing a few years ago. Then they weren't. Now they just aren't.
facebook  product 
july 2018 by charlesarthur
Building something no one else can measure • [sriramk.com]
Siram Krishnan:
<p>Any large system picks a metric to goal itself on. Entire books and way-too-long Medium posts have been written on the importance of said metric - it influences everything from people’s incentives to how quickly you can optimize your business. In an organizational equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat, picking the metric itself can cause weird cultural distortion (see Goodhart’s Law).

Since it is near impossible to perfectly measure human behavior, most large teams/products pick a proxy metric to measure underlying behavior. For example - ‘clicks’ are a proxy for “did I read this?” and “will I buy this product sometime in the future?”, ‘time spent’ is a proxy for “did I enjoy this content?” and NPS is often a substitute for “do I love this company?”. You convert a nebulous human emotion/behavior to a quantifiable metric you can align execution on and stick on a graph and measure teams on. Engineers and data scientists can’t do anything with “this makes people feel warm and fuzzy”. They can do a lot with “this feature improves metric X by 5% week-over-week”. Figuring out the connection between the two is often the art and science of product management.

This is where opportunities arise for startups and insurgents.

These metrics never really capture the underlying human emotion or behavior they are trying to measure. To make things more interesting, they almost always create secondary behavior which makes the metric go up but in a way the system designers didn’t anticipate or want.

For example, in terms of what designers wanted, what they built/measured and what they unintentionally caused:

• Quality journalism → Measure Clicks → Creation of click-bait content<br />• Whether an ad resonates with a human being → measure how long someone saw an ad → varied tactics to game people into seeing an ad.

If you take this outside tech, you could vaguely apply this framework to broader issues.</p>
economics  metrics  product 
april 2017 by charlesarthur
The Bad Product Fallacy: Don't confuse "I don't like it" with "That's a bad product and it'll fail" • andrewchen
The aforementioned Chen:
<p>In the end, we all love to use our own personal judgement to quickly say yes or no to products. But the Bad Product Fallacy says our own opinions are terrible predictors of success, because tech is changing so quickly.

So instead, I leave you with a couple questions to ask when you are looking at a new product:

• If it looks like a toy, what happens if it’s successful with its initial audience and then starts to add a lot more features?
• If it looks like a luxury, what happens if it becomes much cheaper? Or much better, at the same price?
• If it’s a marketplace that doesn’t sell anything you’d buy, what happens when it starts stocking products and services you find valauble?
• If none of your friends use a social product, what happens when they win a niche and ultimately all your friends are using it too?

It’s hard to ask these questions, since they mostly imply nonlinear trajectories in product innovation. However, technology rarely progresses in a straight line – they grow exponentially, whether in utility, price/performance, or in network effect.</p>
product  judgement 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
The non-monetizable product blind spot • The Information
Sam Lessin:
<p>The problem with afterthoughts in the context of big companies is that the best people don’t want to work on them, and whenever there is a tradeoff between the core business and an afterthought, the afterthought loses.

There are plenty of products people want, but they’re not good businesses. It is because they fail as businesses that they can’t be built as products, not the other way around.

So, for something like iCloud, or Apple Music, it’s no surprise that they struggle to produce good consumer products. And it is no surprise that Apple’s attempts in some categories without obvious business models—like productivity apps—have failed too.

Could a great music service or better cloud services help Apple sell more phones? Of course. However, dollar for dollar and moment for moment, these services are not the easiest or next best way for Apple to sell more of the hardware that makes them who they are.

Google is, of course, the other giant to reference in this discussion. On one hand, with its massive search-advertising cash cow, historical “20% time” policy and extreme freedom for engineers, Google has supported more products with no immediate business benefit than almost any big company I can think of.

Even Google, however, ultimately shut down Google Reader rather than invest the money and time to make it great. And while Google’s mail and calendar products are the best of the options available, the company is clearly under-investing in them relative to what they could.

Why? Because Google gets paid for high-intent clicks from search. Products that don’t drive the core economics of the business are easy to start, but hard to make succeed in the culture and framework of business decision making.</p>
product 
may 2016 by charlesarthur
Google to shut down Google Compare products in US and UK on March 23 » Search Engine Land
Ginny Marvin:
<p>The company only recently began rebuilding the Compare product from the ashes of the Advisor program in the US. The single piece left standing from that initial effort was the credit card offering — savings accounts, CDs and mortgages had all discontinued. Compare for Auto Insurance launched just last March, starting in California. Then Google relaunched Compare for Mortgage quotes in November with Zillow and Lending Tree among the launch partners. Both of those relaunches had limited roll outs. In the UK, Google Compare has been running since 2012 for car insurance, mortgage rates, credit cards and travel insurance.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that while searches on these queries remained high, the product didn’t get the traction it hoped for and revenue was minimal. That’s in part due to the limited availability of the products in both the US and the UK.</p>


Another one for the graveyard.
google  product 
february 2016 by charlesarthur
This is how you design your mobile app for maximum growth » First Round Review
<p>[Primer CEO] Kamo Asatryan may very well be one of the best kept secrets in the startup ecosystem. He’s one of a small handful of people who have observed hundreds of mobile apps, thought deeply and scientifically about their mechanics, and determined what they could change to grow faster.

To demonstrate his particular brand of magic: Asatryan’s team recently worked with an app that required users to swipe through four screens explaining the product in-depth before they could sign up. Then the permissions screen literally begged them to let the app access their location data. 60% said no and went on to a dead-end experience.

To turn things around, Asatryan tested a radically different approach: assume that users who installed the app already understood the need to provide their location data. This allowed them to axe the long-winded welcome flow and make the permissions request the second screen. The text was changed to say that users needed to “Enable Location Permissions” (making it clear that it would be for their benefit), and they were literally not able to move on from the screen without saying yes. This sounds risky, but after the shift, 95% of users said yes and went on to a much better product experience.</p>


This is a long article, but every single element of it will be useful if you're in any way involved in designing or critiquing mobile app design. Today's must-read. (Via <a href="http://twitter.com/daveverwer/">Dave Verwer's</a> iOS Dev Weekly.)
business  design  growth  mobile  product 
november 2015 by charlesarthur
Product reviews are broken » Above Avalon
Neil Cybart:
I still think the world needs independent product reviews. There is enough prior misbehavior on behalf of companies to suggest such third-party reviews can serve a purpose by giving consumers value. The problem is that many reviewers don't know what kind of value that is. The move into personalized wearables has largely turned the traditional tech gadget review into an artifact from a begone era. The nature of the tech review should have changed, but many tech reviewers haven't adapted their review process to this new wave of technology. While adding video may represent a new dimension to the review, the underlying premise of the review needs to be rethought.


I agree with Cybart. Reviews have turned into a mess; the desire on social networks to attract attention by being outrageous dilutes the thoughtful ones. And commenters' desire to attach a single value to a device's "worth" - is it one star, five stars? Why is that four stars but this five - wipes subtlety away in pursuit of a blunt distinction.
product  reviews 
april 2015 by charlesarthur

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