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Implications of “Convenience Beats Quality” June 2, 2008

Posted by jeremyliew in Consumer internet, distribution, product management.
Tags: ,

Fred Wilson says that convenience beats quality. In his post he is talking about video and photography. The amazing story of the limited featured Flip Camera, which captured 13% share of the video camera market in its first year on sale, bears testimony to this truism.

I think this maxim, that convenience beats quality, is true not just for video and photography, but also for most consumer internet services. It is one of the reasons that many of the apps that have been most successful on Facebook have been lightweight “just for fun” apps:

Some corollaries of this are:

1. The best product is neither necessary nor sufficient
2. Distribution can be more important than functionality
3. Lightweight interactions beat more involved interactions
4. Defaults matter as many people won’t change them
5. Use implicit information whenever you can to avoid asking users for data.

Do readers agree that convenience beats quality? If so, what are other corollaries?


1. David Rangel - June 2, 2008

I believe convenience (or good UX) also beats privacy concerns (within reason). See: http://www.vcinchicago.com/2008/04/online-financia.html

2. amisare - June 8, 2008

Convenience = Least Effort

From the consumers’ perspective, “Convenience Beats Quality” seems to comply with the “Principle of Least Effort” (see link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_effort ) which, though came from the fields of information-seeking and linguistic research, may have wider applications in other form of human behavior (GK Zipf on “Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort”).

3. Mitch Olson - June 15, 2008

The best tool is always the one you have right at hand, & as a Flip video user I can attest to yours & Fred’s hypothesis.

To my mind there are 3 key dimensions of convenience. The first is the dimension of accessibility – “how easily can I get to the desired/required functionality?”. The second key dimension is usability – “how much brainpower is required to determine how to make this thing work?”. The third dimension is time-efficiency – “how quickly can I complete the task?”.

The higher these 3 dimensions can be leveraged the easier it is for potential users to make use of the potential value, and also the better their bang-for-your-buck in terms of payoff vs time-investment.

Developers of optimised “Just for Fun” apps clearly know this formula. Any product developer not paying attention to these principles does so at their own peril.

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