January 25, 2006

Feature Fight?

by skrenta at 5:38 AM

Paul Montgomery of Tinfinger did a visual matrix of News 2.0 startups listing their features (Yes, "News 2.0" may be a silly term but at least you know what I'm talking about.) Everyone loved his chart.

What's eerie to me is how this sort of feature chart is standard practice in enterprise software startups, but I haven't seen them much on the web/consumer side. Enterprise product battles are often a matter of sales, distribution, and the all-important feature checklist. The sales team scurries over to engineering after each call, waving a list of new, unchecked feature boxes. These boxes must be checked by the next release or there will be no sales! "They really want remote admin." "It needs to allow you to export your config." "The browser UI doesn't support Linux." "The IETF is going to require XYZZY.7 encoding and the customer wants it for interoperability."

After a shudder of horror remembering my days working in enterprise software, I thought how cool it would be if features and distribution actually were the defining metrics of success for web consumer product development. As opposed to insurmountable network effects, pesky first-mover advantages (for the 2nd-nth movers), and and bafflingly successful viral marketing experiments.

"Of course it's about features and distribution", I'm thinking. But I see feature breakdown's like Paul too seldom in the web 2.0 coverage that I read.

Paul has an update where he digs further into the features around News 2.0 and ponders which will ultimately define success.