A couple of years ago, I heard Guy Kawasaki talk about how the thing that defined Silicon Valley was its “what the hell, let’s build it” attitude. It took me a while to get it, but I came round to understanding his point: get moving, build something, figure out who cares about what you’ve built, and then evolve the product. It’s good advice, to a point.
However, there comes a point where the market is so saturated that you start to do stupid things. I got a great example of one such thing in the email today:
It’s called, creatively, “Barbecue”. It’s from San Francisco-based Equinux. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the signs of the apocalypse.
Now, I’m sure there will be people that will purchase this application; it’s cute, gimmicky, and it will doubtlessly keep someone entertained for at least three minutes. But the breathless copy proclaiming this application’s unparalleled awesomeness is simply over the top:
Serve steaks to your friends on Facebook, share kebabs and ribs on Twitter or via Mail. Barbecue on the iPhone:
- Photo realistic images that make your mouth water
- Top notch graphics to get a real bbq experience
- Real sound effects to bring the thrill to the grill
Seriously? We spent countless billions building silicon foundries, a revolutionary mobile operating system, and the associated expertise to simulate the experience of BBQ? I could do the real thing for a couple of bucks, with the obvious bonus that I’d actually get to eat the results. I know somewhere, a software developer is clucking their tongue and pontificating on those silly marketing people. But, last I checked, the marketing people didn’t build this application.
I worry that developers have lost some serious perspective in their bid for fame and fortune. Just because it makes money, doesn’t mean it’s useful. Now, I’m not suggesting that we toss out our enthusiasm for trying new, unproven things; however, I am suggesting that developers need to start considering whether or not their software offers any socially redeeming value.
Developers need to start not only asking themselves “can we build it?”, but also “should we build it?”