How much to include in version 1.0?
Have you seen the new photo sharing app called Path? It was developed by former Facebook employee Dave Morin and Shaw Fanning of Facebook and Napster fame. Most of the Blogs, forums and reviews are hammering the new app for its lack of functionality and limitations–like being able to only connect with 50 friends. I contend they are on the right path by offering an app with limited functionality.
Take a look at TechCrunch blogger Eric Schonfeld comment; “Path is designed to share photos with only your closest 50 friends, primarily through the app itself. You can’t Tweet out links to your photos or share them on Facebook”. But remember this is version 1.0. I’m sure as Path increases in usage V1.1 or V2.0 will offer more features.
“I find it refreshing to see a project launch with such a tight focus and function. Clearly the aim of Path is to be the very best at one thing vs. pretty good at a lot of things” says Jason Franzen of [x]Cube LABS in Dallas. “This is an approach to admire in a sea of “Swiss Army Knife” apps that tend to equate Quantity with Value.”
What Jason is referring to is the attempt of developers or clients to add too many features to an initial application. This complicates the development process and often creates confusion for the end user. Think back to when Facebook first started, (or remember the movie) it offered a picture and status update “what are you doing now”. Over time features and functions have been added to become a robust social media network.
If you are considering an app for the iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry or Microsoft platforms, keep it simple! Start with a set of high value features that will attract new users. If the applications is interesting, solves a problem, or is entertaining then people will use it and tell others. Once usage is high enough, then release version 2.0 with added functionality. If you are smart, provide a means for users to suggest new features and help you prioritize updates.
As Franzen says “The smart phone is already the ‘Swiss Army Knife’, all we really need are new blades to help us cut to the chase.”