Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Living with a MacBook Air

I finally did it. After years of making fun of Macs, I am now a Mac owner and a member of the fully converted.

Not only that, but I went whole-hog and bought a MacBook Air, against the recommendations of my colleagues, and virtually every reviewer on the Web.

I LOVE this machine.

One of the things I admire about Apple is they don't succumb to design by wish-list, a very common antipattern. In many companies, the product manager is a requirements secretarys - they gather lists of requirements emailed by users (who are typically power-users), prioritize them, and mold them into a spec. What you get is a product stuffed with features that aims to please everyone and please no-one.

Apple got it right. Not that the reviewers are wrong, but what they fail to realize is that they are not the target market for this machine. Reviewers are power users. Reviewers are geeks. I simply need to get s**t done. Reviewers complain about the lack of DVD drive. I haven't used a DVD drive in 3 years. They blast apple for not including an Ethernet port. I have Wi-Fi at home. I spend an unhealthy amount of time working from cafes and airports with Wi-Fi. Most of the hotels I stay at have Wi-Fi, and for the few times I need Ethernet, I bought a little USB-Ethernet dongle. I travel once a week. It's light (nothing worse then carrying a 10 pound laptop around an airport), fits perfectly on an airplane tray, has a backlit keyboard for working on late-night flights, and darn it - this is one sexy looking laptop!

What can we learn from Apple? As a product manager, your job is to know your market and your target audience, and devise products that will fill their need - tools to help them get jobs done. Avoid the temptation to try to fit in every incoming request for features from customers who may or may not represent your target market.


Dominira said...

Everyone thought Apple was crazy when they stopped making computers with floppy drives. Part of creating a product that user will be satisfied with is understanding what users need. That is not only forward thinking, but looking back and seeing what technology is no longer efficient. Welcome to the Mac club.

Oren Mazor said...

Apple lives and breathes the pareto principle, and that shows in how elegant and user centric their technology is.

glad to see another convert :)