We can all learn something from Mr. Jobs, “Make it better, make it simple, make people want it!”. I don’t think he ever said that, but it feels like he is saying that directly to me every time I pick up my iPhone. From what I have read and heard, Steve was a magician designer, motivator, visionary, savior and brilliant marketeer. I seriously doubt anyone ever heard Steve say, “Let’s ship minimum viable product!”.
There is a major difference between MVP and KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Building complex products and services that look and feel “simple” is really hard! MVPs are basically alpha builds at hookflash. I guess it all depends on what you are building and what your goals are but for me, shipping “minimum viable product” always left me feeling a bit weak. If you are going to ship something that you want people to fall in love with and use every day, you will need to spend time reiterating before you even get to market. It will not be easy and it will always end up taking longer than you predicted. I am not saying that the Angry Birds and iFart apps aren’t successful but when it comes to clearing space on my iOS device, they are the first to go.
Wired recently published a great article on their blog, ‘Ship Today, Update Tomorrow’: The Modern Tablet Credo. I won’t spoil the read (and it’s a good one) but for me it identifies a developing trend that undermines value in new products and services. Why ship it if it’s sadly lacking features and functionality? So you can buy yourself some time? Kindle Fire has shaken up the tablet market but only the market will decide if they deserve a second chance.
Seth Godin had a great article that touched on this as well, “When “minimal viable product” doesn’t work“, excerpt below..
One of my favorite ideas in the new wave of programming is the notion of minimal viable product. The thought is that you should spec and build the smallest kernel of your core idea, put it in the world and see how people react to it, then improve from there.
For drill bits and other tools, this makes perfect sense. Put it out there, get it used, improve it. The definition of “minimal” is obvious.
Often, for software we use in public, this definition leads to failure. Why? Two reasons: read more on Seth’s blog.
Remember the old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”