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Steve Jobs and Jeffrey Bezos on product development

April 15, 2017

     Perhaps Steve Jobs and Jeffrey Bezos have some shared ideals.

     I just read Jeff Bezos's annual letter about Amazon.com and its business ethos.  As I read it, there were two statements about product design which seem to echo one of Steve Jobs' more noteable quotations -- "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." (see Forbes link).

     Here are the two statements:

 

There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

 

Another example: market research and customer surveys can become proxies for customers – something that’s especially dangerous when you’re inventing and designing products. “Fifty-five percent of beta testers report being satisfied with this feature. That is up from 47% in the first survey.” That’s hard to interpret and could unintentionally mislead. Good inventors and designers deeply understand their customer. They spend tremendous energy developing that intuition. They study and understand many anecdotes rather than only the averages you’ll find on surveys. They live with the design.

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