Thursday, May 28, 2009

Functionality is NOT the king!

I was thinking, what makes a product a hands down market leader and an also-ran. One thing I realised was that functionality is not the only criteria. If it were the same, FriendFeed would be much bigger than Twitter. Or for that matter, LinkedIn wouldn't be the market leader either. Or Google might have been oust by one of the many search engines that came up after it.
Same is true for mobile phones too. If functionality was the only criteria, the lot of "prettier" phones would have been replaced by the more "functional" ones. iPhone might just have gone extinct if it were only to be compared on functionalities with the blackberries. I had read somewhere that SAP proudly stated that they never show the product during the selling stage. Reason - because "nobody ever got sacked for buying SAP " !

The race for functionality is never ending. You could go on adding features to your product. It will never reach the marketing stage in this way. Functionality is not the main thing and the marketing people know it too! The product has to be only "good enough" on functionality. The rest is about the acceptability, portability and the perception. "If the whole industry uses SAP, then it must be good enough". "All my friends use Twitter, I don't want to use something else."

If it is all about functionality then it is an argument about diminishing returns, marginal differences and small variations. And often this is not nearly enough to win a client, cause a revolution, or shift opinions.

Frankly, as long as our needs (present, and foreseeable in the near future) are met, do we really care what more is on offer? After this point, perception takes over. If something is viewed as the "poor man's cow", it will not be bought by someone who wants to project a rich image. If google is the in-thing, why would someone use AOL?

The next thing is the change. The trouble of moving from one product to another. People love familiarity. Getting people to switch without showing them the huge advantages is not going to work. That's the reason that analysts claim that despite Wolfram Alpha's great features, it might not be able to overtake google. For the cost and disruptions would be too huge given the present slight edge in functionality.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: