Building a Crappier Sports Car (or Minivan)

Let’s say you and I set out to design a vehicle. I think it would be wise for us to choose what sort of vehicle we were designing and who we were designing it for. Are we serving young fathers just getting into their parenting years? Or maybe 55 year old balding men knee-deep in their mid-life crises. Those two groups would likely not want the same vehicle.

Let’s say we come up with a killer soft top sports car tailored to the 55 year old. It handles well, it’s a little easier to get into and out of than a typical low-slung sports jobbie, and it has a windscreen specifically designed to protect that combover at highway speeds.

Now, how would you feel about the following:

1. Weld on a hardtop, making sure to add about 10″ more head room.
2. Soften the suspension.
3. Add another pair of rear doors.
4. Expand the rear to carry several unassembled items from Ikea along with a stroller and about 115pack of diapers – or two extra rows of removable seating.

How do you think that would affect our original design? Would the 55 year old be pleased with the result?

I’ve been hopeful that Ubuntu was heading down a design path where they were becoming more focused on who they wanted to design for. And make no mistake, I don’t think I’m in that group, but still I wanted them to stick to their guns, ignore the naysayers (even if I’m one of them) and plug on with their plan.

By the sounds of this post from Jono Bacon though, it sounds as though they’d like to hedge their bets. It sounds like:
Hey, we’re still designing the best dang product for group A, but hey all you guys in the entirely opposite Group B.. don’t go anywhere. We will add stuff for you guys too!

Now with Ubuntu I suppose the inverse of my initial analogy is more apt. They’re aiming to build the best damn vehicle for new fathers, but hey all you sports car drivers.. we’ll add alloy rims and a spoiler, stiffen the springs a bit and put in some oil pressure guages for you!

That results in a crappier minivan. And a crappier sports car.
I’m not sure how you could see it in any other way. But by all means, I’m completely open to enlightenment.


ps. I didn’t mention that it’s a significant conundrum when the Group B guys are supposed to be the guys actually building the product for Group A.

pps. I could be wrong about this whole idea:

6 thoughts on “Building a Crappier Sports Car (or Minivan)

  1. What exactly is an “Ubuntu Power user”? Someone who changes the desktop background color? Someone that likes to tweak and custom configure their desktop environment?

    By setting such a firm deadline for release, Canonical had to ship Unity before it was finished. Now that Unity has shipped, Canonical can add “user customization” to Unity and market it as a “power user feature”.

    • I think they should decide who they want to serve and try to serve the hell out of them. But you can’t do that when you’re trying to please the whole spectrum of people. I don’t really care who they choose, but it’s critical they do choose and stand firm on that.

      • They want to serve people who are accustomed to being able to configure GNOME. Unfortunately, they rushed a sub-standard product out the door and they are trying to spin “oh shit we didn’t have time to add user customization to our software” into “we are adding some shit for power users”

        • I’m not sure your first sentence is true. Maybe it’s true for this suggestion of the PUC (ugly acronym lol), but in general have they ever really defined who they are aiming to serve?

  2. Look, I don’t know who you are, where you came from, or what you think you know (and I know you don’t know it, I think) you are totally out to lunch.

    They have clearly got this stuff down.

    They already have this under control. There are two demographics. That’s it. Ok?

    There are End Users. And there are Power Users.

    I really don’t get where you are going with all of this? Where’s your OS? Huh?

    I mean, there are those two types of people. Duh. Didn’t you see that older Tron movie? There’s Users and there’s the MCP. There’s also some other stuff that I can’t really remember. I do remember thinking that Bridge’s had a rad helmet though. I was twelve then. Everyone is blue too.

    I mean, who is an iPhone for? END USERS. Right? And like Windows? END USERS. Duh.

    If Linix is going to be successful, it needs to focus on end users too. And get a good wallpaper. Maybe like one with Bridge’s blue helmet.

    But Ubunti is almost there. Just wait until the next release.

    I really wish this site had more stuff like that stuff on ZOMFGUbuhntoo…

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