Archive | February, 2013

Speed and the product lifecycle

23 Feb

If you’ve looked at any of the material on technology products, you’ll have seen this curve:

Innovation adoption lifecycle

To a first approximation, this tells us how fast a product will sell over time, and knowing about the types of people in each of the segments will tell us how to tailor the messages we put out about the product.

I did a spreadsheet to see what happens.


Wonderful. Look at all that lovely profit.

But before we can sell something, we need to develop it.

Let’s add some development time into the project. And let’s remember that we have to borrow the money from somewhere to do it.


Not only do we need to borrow to do 6 months of development, but also we make less profit.

And, of course, everyone wants to make sure that the product is as good as possible before releasing it onto the market.

Bad idea.

So they make the product better – and it sells 50% more than it would have done. But they take 50% longer to do that.


Ok, we made slightly more profit. But it happened later, and we got more in debt to do so.

And what happens if they were wrong about the value of the features? What if we didn’t sell any more?


Ouch. We don’t break even until right at the end of the product’s life.

Now, to be fair, there’s a fair collection of assumptions in those graphs, and I don’t pretend they are anything like precise. But that does look to me like a really strong argument for getting the minimum viable product out as quickly as possible. Now I get to try and explain it to the engineering team…