Thursday, September 20, 2012

How new versions of successful products lead to failure

Or do they?

New versions of successful products would fail in the past as customers got frustrated with the missing or altered features that they were used to. Dave Winer writes about it here:
People thought we had removed features from ThinkTank, because they had used the Apple II or IBM PC versions. In fact this was a completely new codebase, and we shipped early because there was a lack of software on the Mac. So it didn't have a lot of the features of the earlier product. No matter, the users were outraged by this. They thought they had bought a better computer, and here was the product with less features. We totally didn't anticipate this, because from our point of view it was a major accomplishment to get something out at all.
 He writes about dBase and his own product ThinkTank as historical examples. I'm not sure though that we are living in the same world. dBase and ThinkTank didn't have the advantage that is brought by "Network Effect". In the case of twitter, despite the fact that new twitter clients have missing features and that twitter is actively destroying its third party developer community, I can't leave. All the people and services are "tweeting", and until they all move away en-mass to another service, I can't leave.

Apple doesn't have network effects on its side, but they do have a great brand. I'm not sure if a great brand is as powerful as "network effects", but it sure seems like it is. I guess we'll see.