The Big Think – Part 1

So, this last month I’ve been having some serious second thoughts about the viability of the software I’m very slowly creating.

I’ve spent a lot of time re-assessing whether there really will be a market for my product and whether there is going to be any potential growth from it into complimentary products and services. Even the name I’ve given it is looking a little shaky at the moment as it doesn’t scale to other uses, but the application could be used with multiple types of servers with a little work.

This is important stuff, and I’m still not quite sure whether it is a goer or not, so I’m going to ramble here, maybe something will come to light.

Part of the problem is that this product is an add-on for a product that is gaining features all the time, and there is quite a chance that some of my key features will be added to the main product. If this happens, then why on Earth would someone buy my product?

Ok, my product is a desktop application, this is probably a selling point for a good percentage of my potential market and is very unlikely (at the moment) to be added as an option to the core product which is at the moment browser based. However, the initial features that would actually add value to the current product could be added to it, and most likely are being added in the next major version. The whole reason for me creating this app is that users of the core product keep asking for certain features, as such the vendor would be amiss to not include them in a very near term update wouldn’t they?

I guess a big positive of my app being desktop based is that the features I can add are potentially going to be far more user friendly in execution than with a web app. I can update subsets of the displayed data as and when I need to, and manipulate it without connecting to the server far more efficiently and without any browser standards compliance issues. Simple things like re-ordering data in a list is so much easier on a desktop app than a web app, there’s no need to connect to the database, no network traffic, and no fragile JavaScript or such like to be broken by the browser.

As a consequence of being a desktop application, it’s entirely possible that I could make the app able to function in a disconnected state, this could be a bonus for some people, but I’m not sure whether it’ll be a huge benefit for the majority of potential customers. The work involved in adding this kind of functionality pretty much requires that I hold off until it becomes a regular feature request from paying customers. But first, I have to actually get some customers!

No comments.

  1. Hello Ian. Our situations sound so similar I wonder if we’re not developing the same product! Read my blog over the next few days to find out more.

    Does the core product have much competition? If so is the core product the market leader in it’s field?

    If not perhaps you’d be better off integrating with the market leader first to increase the potential size of your own market. You can always integrate with this current core product afterwards.

    That said, keep in mind all the potential core products as you are developing for the first. If after your first release you can quickly follow it with a version to integrate with each of them you’ll be less severely affected as they start to copy your features.

    You mentioned you could also integrate with other types of servers. Did you mean competitors to your current core product or completely different classes of programs? If you meant completely different classes of programs be careful of spreading yourself too thin.

    It sounds like you’ve identified the need for your product from working with users of the core product. This is how I got my initial idea too and I think (hope) it’s a good sign. Remember though that those users are just your inspiration, not your customers. If you spot a more lucrative market for your product, don’t hesitate to shift your focus towards it.

  2. Hi Lachlan. I don’t think the core product is the market leader, probably far from it in fact, but the market is seriously fragmented and has a lot of free as well as commercial offerings. I’m basically targetting an app that is quite high profile though, and has gained a lot of market share in relatively short time, and looks set to grow steadily too. I like it, use it, and want to get more out of it, and think I could add a tool to satisfy some of my needs and hopefully a few other people’s too.

    I’m definitely interested in integrating with a few of the core product’s competitors, there are a number that could do with the option of a desktop companion. I’m not at present interested in integrating with apps outside of the domain, that really would pollute the brand.