The MVP Myth – World Product Day

What is a brand?

A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name?

The name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers?

It is the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers connect with, by identifying the name, logo, slogan, or design of the company who owns the idea or image.

A brand is an expectation of an experience.

It sounds like a bumper sticker but you have to embrace it. The brand that Apple presents is design, functionality and … expensive. And they’re not that much more expensive. It just feels it. It’s why Apple, despite never having a monopoly of any market, despite never having the majority of market share in any sector, manages to not only lead the rest of the industry by the nose but also garners the lions share of the profit for the product category.

A product is more than code.

A product is more than code. More than a box. More than a gadget. Everywhere there is contact point with a customer is part of the product. This includes help documentation, the youtube channel providing training and the support person on Twitter who deals with my moaning about how it’s not working the way I expect.

This is in addition to the features and functions of a product. I wouldn’t buy a product that didn’t promise an experience. The most basic experience being “It does what it claims to do”. Soap that doesn’t emulsify grease is as useless as a photo editing app that doesn’t allow me to save my edits. The difference being that the app probably has a trial period.

So what the hell is an MVP?

A minimal viable product (MVP) is the first product that you release to customers outside of a focus group or a beta test group or even outside of your own company. It should represent the core features of the product, it can be monetised because there is value.

Too many people focus on the Minimal rather than the Viable part of Minimal Viable Product.

And that’s why we get so much crap out there. It easily explains Windows 1.0. Heck, it explains The System that shipped with the Mac in 1984. It explains OS 1.0 that shipped with the iPhone (remember that it couldn’t even cut and paste and the browser only could manage 8 tabs?). Remember the iPod? When it shipped, the capsule review from CmdrTaco on Slashdot (which was big back in the day), was “No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.” and he was right – but “Lame” went on to become one of the biggest products in the world, spawning an entire industry around it, boosting the Mac through the halo effect and being often the first product anyone had held with an Apple logo. But all of these were viable (yes, even Windows 1.0).

Remember, VIABLE, more important than MINIMAL.

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