It Depends.

Which is a better vacation? A trip to Egypt or New Zealand? Which is better the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 plus? Which is the better Android phone the One plus, the HTC M8? or the LG G3? Which is the better nexus device the Nexus 6 or the nexus 5?

The answer is, it depends.

When there’s a clear cut winner, the decision is easy. What is the best search engine to use? Google. There’s no competition, thus the focus is not on the decision but what succeeds that, the action. The difference is in what action you’ll take once you have made the decision.

Decisions are harder when the lines are blurred or the advantages aren’t immediate between competing choices.

It becomes harder but more interesting. Because now the focus is you. Your unique DNA, your unique thinking, your influences, your needs and your ultimate goal.

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Here’s what most people don’t get. When two people start off at the same exact path but reach two totally different conclusions or decisions, it is alright to be unique and comfortable in the different end result. A case in point is my brother and I. Both born out of the same womb, both influenced culturally, both have reached very very different decisions in terms of career and life. It would also seem different sides of the brain have been exercised more between us.

And that is okay.

When people ask me what phone to buy or when I have to decide which phone I want to buy. The frustratingly comforting words return, It Depends.

Do you want a better camera?
Do you want a better battery?
Do you want better mobility?
Which ecosystem of applications do you want to use?
How much are you willing to spend?
What do you use your phone primarily for?
Where do you carry it around with you the most?
What are the other peripherals you use?
Do you prefer complete control over the ecosystem and phone? or do you trust in design for someone else?

This problem surfaced last night when I was deciding on which iPhone to get. I spent about 3 hours on research and talking and testing each phone according to my criteria before settling on the one I ended up buying.

The decision to go back to Apple in itself after a fair amount of using the android system thoroughly was on choice. I prefer the interaction and UI more. This might be my last iPhone but it was something I forked good money over and I am happy with the decision.

What worked for me might not work for you so the choices I end up deciding on might not be the same as yours. But if you want me to give you a way of deciding start with those questions above. Most people need to know 2 things in deciding a phone.

Know what features are the most important ones to you first. Based on your usage.
For me it’s the camera and battery. I take tons of pics and do a lot of web surfing so screen size was important to me. Follow me on instagram here. That’s right a shameless plug. I ALSO wanted great mobility but alas I couldn’t get that. Specs wise there are many things that individually beat in each category but there’s no phone that does both just as well (The sony Z3 might be the closest in that category and no the windows phone doesn’t compare don’t even..). Prioritize the things you absolutely won’t compromise on. Because we aren’t there yet but it’ll be a while before the perfect phone comes out. You are often faced with a decision on choosing.

Investing in apps and the peripherals.
Using an Android phone with a windows operating system while surfing on the iPad and getting chrome cast up and running can be a frustrating endeavor. If you have the mac set up you are better off with the iPhone family. First reason is because of the cohesive experience. And here’s where I disagree with the spec monsters. The iPhone certainly doesn’t have the best single thing in the department (although the camera/processor are pretty top notch) but the collective experience is why it’s better than most phones out there. Google can bring about with the Android (the nexus devices bite at the heart of it) very soon and if they take it into their hands but till then there’s only one king of complete user experience.

So after much debate last night, my friend ended up taking the iPhone 6 for his hands and his requirement that he needed it absolutely for running around marathons. Me? I’m typing this on my phone that’s a little plus.

Posted from my iPhone.

 

j j j

Data, Lovin’ it and tryin’ to live with it.

Data is important since Star Trek.

Everyone builds products these days and talk about Big Data. I wish someone told me why this is important in the first place. Why can’t I just have 10 customers that pay me 100 $ without fail? That answer is you could if you wanted to keep it small. But new product insights, user behavior and the perception of your product changes at scale. Successful products are, in my opinion, inherently, maybe unconsciously, built for scale.

Why should a product scale?
Scale in the layman terms is mass numbers. When you scale, you see different patterns of the same fundamental product. India is a scaled human product. Large numbers is important for your decisions. Large growth is important (that’s what she said) because it gives us two important factors in decision making for products. Data at scale and network effect.

Data at scale.
Data is  important for you to analyse your decisions based on feeling, myth or present patterns of success. You might like the color blue personally, but what if there are 89 % people clicking on the purple link instead? Would you stick to your theory of feeling or go with a decision based on Data? Doug Bowman famously post it in his good bye post at Google. At that time I thought it was a little extreme. Actually, I still think 41 shades of blue is a little extreme, but after working at Disney and seeing the way Zynga operates, I have come to believe Data’s very important to taking decisions.

User behavior at 10 people is different from a 1000 is completely different at 1 million. A number of things at scale teach you about the product itself. Can your monetization channels hold at 10,000 people transacting per second? What is the engineering architecture to ensure that the congestion in the network is not resultant of bad handling of scale? What happens when 100,000 users send gifts every hour to 3 of their friends. What gating would you apply? How many gifts would you limit it to per second? Is it 1?2?3?4? How would you know? A/B Testing through Data. You put a few options out there, test it with people, see what sticks and go with that. That testing though cannot be achieved where there are 10 people. If you show a dollar difference between 5 people , you can rest assured that the other 5 that paid more will hunt you down.

Decisions guided at scale aren’t those that are guided by feeling or expression of art, it is based on an important concept. The Network Effect.

The network effect.
The network effect is a by product of scale. While data is basically numbers collected, network effect depicts the “behaviour” Network Effect is an important thing based on scale. The effect that one user has on the “value” of that product to other people is a powerful factor that one needs to prepare for. Twitter and Facebook are good examples (except since they are free to join, the actual value is not seen to a user). For a product like Spotify or Twitch premium, the network effect is more eminent.

Network effects become significant after a certain subscription percentage has been achieved, called critical mass. At the critical mass point, the value obtained from the good or service is greater than or equal to the price paid for the good or service. As the value of the good is determined by the user base, this implies that after a certain number of people have subscribed to the service or purchased the good, additional people will subscribe to the service or purchase the good due to the value exceeding the price.” – Wikipedia.

That is why a lot of companies in Silicon Valley are funded based on growth itself. Because monetization is not that hard. Scale is incredibly hard to achieve. Getting a critical mass to your product can immediately jump start your hockey stick growth.

Have you found anything useful in your data analysis? What insights do you have at low or high scales?

I’ll look into factors that govern how products scale in the next few product posts. It’s funny that I finished my post and read a good friend’s humorous take on the tyranny of data.

 

j j j