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February 22, 2013 / glennlim thots

Theory of “Feature Frontier”

Image“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all” – Peter Drucker

Did you know that over-innovating & over-efficiency can stun growth, and turn successful products into flops? According to “Feature Frontier” Theory, one can ‘over-do’ an otherwise successful design into its death!

The first car had 1 gear. Then came 2-gear cars, which was a successful innovation. Then came 3-gear, 4-gear and 5-gear cars, all with great market success. But 6-gear cars flopped! 5 gears were enough. Customers simply did not need more than 5 gears. However, the motor companies never understood and kept hitting against this ‘feature frontier’ ceiling.

Similarly, Intel has reaped success from making its chips faster. They successfully released faster and faster Pentium chips. But, at about 2 GHz customers seemed to have stopped caring. The ‘feature frontier’ was reached. The new need was not faster chips, but faster internet.

Apple offered a screen resolution of 320×480 in the early iPhone, and 640×960 in iPhone4 and now its 640×1136 in the iPhone5. But surprisingly iPhone5 sales are lower than expected. Maybe a feature frontier is approaching? Maybe there is only so much resolution a human eye requires?

Let’s ask ourselves this week – what design, product, or service have we been over-doing way past their prime? Let’s identify the ‘feature frontiers’ to avoid innovating ourselves into oblivion…Glenn Lim


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