Sometimes it seems like it, but the reality is deeper and more mysterious. This post was sparked by an interesting discussion among the Enterprise Irregulars group. They were discussing how WebEx had steadily made their offering more and more difficult to love through feature bloat and how Skype’s newer screen sharing features were so easy. I remarked by asking whether any had read the book “Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd.”
It’s a fascinating look at how many businesses are failing at competition simply because of what is essentially feature bloat. We’ve trained scores of marketers (especially product managers) and consumers to think in terms of big feature matrices. The theory is that if you can check off more boxes than the other guy, you win. That has certainly been endemic to the software industry.
But, as the book points out, this practice completely kills the passion, makes for lousy products, costs the product’s owners a fortune, and ultimately leads to faster commoditization.
This discussion of WebEx vs Skype is exactly the kind of thing the book writes about. But Vinnie Mirchandani, who has written a fascinating book (well worth a read!) called “The New Polymath” sees it differently. He says, “Bob, goes in waves. Markets drive AND not OR as my book points out over and over.”