Back when Palm was an independent company flush with success and selling the Palm III and Palm V like mad, they sent out representatives to talk to users at various retail outlets.
I attended one of these at a now-closed branch of RCS Computer Experience in NYC.
I should have seen then that Palm was doomed.
And now I see that Twitter is also doomed.
The representative from Palm didn’t listen. All he did was talk. And when he talked about the kind of things people used their device for, there was an air of condescension in his voice. As if we were basically suckers who had no lives that the company was milking for cash.
He was especially contemptuous to people who really pushed the limits of their devices and wanted it to do more.
There was a drawing at one point. We were to all write down a suggestion for Palm and they would draw a winner from the lot. My suggestion — which was dismissed with ridicule by the rep — was for OCR. Pissed off by him, I wrote OCR on huge letters on my slip. A slip was drawn. The rep looked at it. Then he threw it away and chose another as a winner.
I bet that slip had just three letters on it: OCR.
When you dismiss the people who push the limits of your product — when you ridicule them, despise them, condescend to them, ignore them — how the fuck can you expect to be a lasting success?
You are going against the very grain of nature.
Nature — which includes those things called human beings — is never in stasis. Things grow, they adapt, they change.
So it is with users. They begin with your training wheels, but sooner or later the most advanced of them want those wheels taken off so they can outrun everyone else.
And not just that, they will do things you never thought of with your product.
Palm was smug in its success.
I think Twitter is now too.
For if Scoble is to believed, they have the exact same damned attitude Palm had:
There’s very little curiosity inside the product team at Twitter. Quick, name a poweruser who works at Twitter. I can’t. In fact, some of my friends have analysed the people who work at Twitter and most don’t follow many people, most don’t tweet very often, most don’t interact with other people very often. These are attributes of people who will design new features. There is also a decided bent against heavy users, which is biasing that team toward inaction rather than anything interesting.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
No wonder they have no damned idea of how they’re going to be shivved by Google and left on the ground bleeding to death!
They have the attitude of all the crooked mortgage brokers out there: Grab it while the grabbing is good and the hell with tomorrow.
Really, if they’re all going to walk away with fat paydays, they’re set. What the hell do they care if Twitter tanks after that? It won’t affect their bank accounts. It’s not like there will be a clawback on that money.
Contrast that attitude to Google. Google, which has more money than Twitter will ever see on its current course, is listening to its users and acting. It’s acting with the speed of a start-up.
Which one do you think is going to be around the longest?
The company where everyone wants to cash in, or the company that is inured to the temptations of further riches?