Me first! -news reader & Why SWOT analysis can kill application development


It started a few months ago…

As always, the idea was born out of a need that I had myself.

I found myself using 2-3 hours every evening, wading through the cumulated content on Flipboard. That is, whenever my 2 year old son wasn’t playing Cut the Rope, watching pictures on SoundTouch or shooting away some angry birds.

I don’t really need a laptop, so all media consumption outside the office is done either on the iPad or my HTC Incredible S.

In order to stay up to date with what’s going on in the world, I feel a huge need to keep reading, keep learning and keep developing my own understanding of the future.

The problems start when new source discovery, often through social networks, cumulates more and more sources. More sources = More content to wade through.

Flipboard, Zite, Pulse, Evri, Google Reader, HTC Friend Stream, Facebook news feed, Twitter home feed, Google+

I found myself way too often clicking on a news source, reading the first paragraph, going back to the list of articles, clicking on the next article, finding out it wasn’t worth reading either and so on.

Instead of just waiting to get better tools, I decided to push ahead and start the process of bringing a better tool myself.

So far, so good.

The process has been fairly smooth, and much faster than with Email Factory.

At the moment, we are discussing options with different financing parties, and the problems start.

As soon as it is time to talk about the product with investors, it is much too easy to fall into “feature frenzy”.

It is so easy to believe that the only way to convince the investor, is to prove that you know all the strength of the competitors… can match those strenghts… and bring something new, awesome and innovative to the table.

The product development direction might start to drift towards being a copycat + 1 model, instead of solving the problem that originally birthed the idea.

 The SWOT kills the idea.

The wake up call came when I read an interview with Square COO Keith Rabois. He boldly states that “There is no value in NFC”.

Damn right!

In our case, there is no value trying to be all the competitors at once, and drift away from the original idea.

It was a crude awakening for me to realize, that I had started to make product plans and wireframes for a product that no longer was something that I would like to use, but that would surely boast the longest list of features of all news readers in the market.

I have been wasting days of tuning an investor presentation that is custom made to get money, not made to solve a problem.

“Square looks inward at its applications and services, not outward at competitors.”

For me, it is time to look inward, get back to the source of the problem.

Kill the SWOT, before it kills you. 

About Sakari Kyrö

Customer experience fanatic, looking for weak signals to understand the future of the connected economy.

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