The Facebook/iPad Seminar (kinda odd name, since nobody seemed to do any Facebook apps, and most groups just covered the app in general) ended today (well, yesterday), and tired, sad and headache-suffering me is sitting down to think about the Todoist presentation and what I think about the app. Okay, I sound kinda grumpy, but I think I learned a few things from all the presentations today. So here we go~
The group covering Todoist started pretty strongly by comparing it to Any.do, a competing to-do list product, by stating that despite Todoist being released first with really cool features (the one they highlighted was Todoist’s strong Natural Language Processing abilities), it ended up with less users than Any.do. This fact was brought up to drill home this point: just because your application released early with cool features, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will end up being a popular app. It’s a fast moving world, and just because you’re the best now doesn’t mean that you’ll be the best later. Heck, you might still technically offer the best product, but gaining or maintaining a userbase is not just about the quality of the product. This reminds me of companies like Nintendo or Nokia. Both companies were the first to revolutionise their respective industries, but their inability to adapt to changing times has lost them their first place. Nokia is barely a shell of itself now, and while Nintendo survives based on its strong gaming properties, it could have had a commanding lead in the industry had they not alienated the hardcore gamer fanbase. For Todoist, I suppose its focus diverged, with Todoist perhaps aiming more towards business users with their pricing model. As the group explained later on, Todoist locks many features behind a Premium subscription.
That brings us to the next point. The group mentioned that Todoist should target the market better, and adjust their pricing models accordingly. The example they gave (which was quite apt) was Windows, which has multiple versions with different prices, targeting home and business users. This would encourage users who are on a lower budget to subscribe. On Todoist’s website, I can already see that the Reminders, Notes and Labels/Filters features are locked behind a premium subscription. I would wager that many home users or students would really love to have the Reminders feature, to receive push notifications when the todo is due, but would not need the ability to attach PDFs, spreadsheets, or photos to their Notes at all. I think I would agree with the group’s assessment. Producing a product that solves your users’ problems as closely as possible is easier if you offer multiple feature and pricing models, and let people pay for what they want. However, I think this would be somewhat difficult to do. You would have to conduct user studies to figure out what the different target users prefer, and sometimes, more options make things more confusing. It’s part of why Microsoft simplified the differences between Windows versions – you used to have so many versions of Windows or Office that it would be really confusing to figure out what you really want. Apple mostly gets this right, as their products are usually available with really limited choices.
The features and pricing of your app is highly important due to the saturated market nowadays. This is especially true for Todoist. The group mentioned that Todoist was in a very saturated market, and thus had to stand out in order to survive. But even for our apps, there are less and less unique ideas these days for apps that target very large userbases. The CS3216 thing about execution being more important than the idea comes in useful here. If there are other similar apps already on the market, either you provide some killer feature that was previously unthought of (good luck), or you go back to the basics, and ensure that the core functionality of the app is as polished and user friendly as possible. That was actually the philosophy behind Things, an app presented by another group (but not the group I’m supposed to blog about, so whoops). Basically, you want to be “better” than the competition, where “better” is decided by the target audience.
I learnt quite a bit from this presentation, and all the presentations today. I do think the presentation format is really limiting and annoying though. I’m sure there are other ways to limit the time taken by the groups…not all content can be nicely split into 20 second chunks, and I felt that the flow of many presentations were affected by it. People were speaking to conform to what slides were on the screen at the time, as opposed to using the slides as a supplement to enhance the presentation. Of course, with practice, the results are really good, but in my opinion a normal presentation format with cutoff timing would have sufficed. If anything, though, it was a pretty interesting presentation format that was unlike anything I’ve done before. That’s probably worth the experience, but I’d rather not do it again heh. 😛
I changed the blog theme because holy shit the old theme wasted so much screen space. /random