Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Almost anyone can get their hands on what they need in order to be a digital product inventor. That is to say: anyone can gain access to the fundamental design, development and production tools one needs to create a product. The digital product development space benefits from open access to a variety of tools and methods for developing digital products – including support programs like BizSpark, free trial software, FREE software, endless online tutorials, and open source solutions. Not only is there easy access to the tools, but the tools available do so much of the work for budding product inventors that the barrier to entry for coding is potentially low (depending on the sophistication of the product-to-be). So, what about the right product idea? Pretty much everyone I talk to – in and outside of the interactive industry – has a digital product idea, as well. Whether it’s for the web, TV or mobile pretty much everyone remotely interested in technology, (isn’t that everyone?), either has a product idea or could come up with one. A successful product idea doesn’t even need to be unique: most VCs agree that existing competition shows a real need and market for a product. One might think that this means inventing a digital product is easy: access + great tools + ideas = success. Right?
Well, lets be frank: it’s easier then it was a few years ago to create and launch a product – and its going to get easier in many respects. However, the reality of creating successful digital products is that the development processes can be fairly complex for a company building for the future. And by development, I don’t simply mean the actual coding, engineering, or testing tasks. I refer to the development of the product idea and user experience, as well. When considering the impact of decisions regarding business model, user experience, technology platforms (language, servers, scalability, etc.), operations, and more – it amounts to quite a claim stake with potentially little or no ultimate value or success to show for the effort in the end – except maybe some hard lessons learned. As an older and well respected colleague of mine said a few weeks ago: “… if you create a good product you might send your kid to state college. But the difference between that and actually launching a truly successful digital product is vast.”