Monday, 4 October 2004

Technology Sweet Spot

My digital camera was broken the other day. It dropped from the belt clip and can't zoom any more. I bought it about 20 months ago, at a premium price because I was attracted to its "quick start" feature - and it was an impulsive buy!

After the accident, I brought it back to Minolta for repair. The quote came back as a shock! It would cost me AUD300+ to have it repaired. I reckon I can almost buy a new one with much better features by adding a bit of money. So I did not have it repaired. BTW, the bigger (and newer) brother of the model costs around AUD350 and have more pixels and optical zoom! (I won't buy from Minolta any more and I won't be taking any picture in Finland - what a shame!)

However this started me thinking. I can buy an expensive camera now - knowing that I am paying a premium price for the top features and knowing that I would be able to buy a similar one much cheaper a year or so later. Alternately, I can choose a "sweet spot" and buy the best value camera. In computing sense, this sweet spot is pretty straight forward - Google allegedly is always buying its hardware at "sweet spot".

There are three factors inter-playing here:
1. A "rational" choice between buying the best or buying the best value*
2. The quest of better is a never ending game**, and my "greediness" of getting the newer and more features.
3. Can I learn from my last lesson?

I am motivated to change and I think I am very rational, but I have still been struggling so much in these 3 factors! --> That's why "page-turning" eLearning material does not work when we want to induce change!

The most important thing I hope I can learn from this experience is:

People can always buy at an impulse and look for premium features, but it is always the "best value" which offers better value. Features always creep and need to be continuous updated. ELearning technology should not be any exception!

This would translate to:
Should Fablusi offer its software/platform on an ongoing basis (i.e. providing continuous improvement to our customers)? or should we sell by versions and charge our customers for each new version upgrade? We know the answer from Microsoft. My own belief system drives me to ask Fablusi to follow a different path from Microsoft.

*[Disclaimer here: I am not going to buy the most expensive professional grade camera: I am only investigating a camera less than US$1000 - but there are still a lot choice in this range in the sense of the best verse best value!]

**I remembered the day when 64K RAM was consider a lot, or the initial estimate of the number of "super-computer" needed by the world by IBM!


Albert Ip said...

[Scot posted this comment which was originally hosted by haloscan. I have copied this over here.]
Good luck in Finland Albert,

I guess you can think of the sweet spot interms of interface useability also and what it takes to get back on top of changes to newer versions of the software.
I had a look at Fablusi recently and have noticed some major changes to the interface--hopefully, by the time I need to use it again it will not differ too much. I might need some re-training!!

I look forward to chatting when you get back from Finland.


Scot Aldred | Email | 10.06.04 - 12:15 am | #

Albert Ip said...

Good point by Scot re: interface sweet spot. Cutting edge interface design is "expensive" to design and own. A recent example is the new Fablusi v2 which is based on CSS. While CSS is not exactly the most cutting edge, but is difficult enough to intimidate people. The advantage of adapting CSS for Fablusi v2 is the flexibility that is opened up.

Yes, there are major changes to the Fablusi v2 interface, I hope it is intuitive enough to the players!