Building Featureless Software is Hard

One of the instant reactions I see about 25% of the time when demoing Firestoker is instant disappointment. As I whiz through one or two scenarios, and then stop abruptly and say “and that’s Firestoker”, I get a blank stare in return. A sort of “I thought we were just getting started” sort of look.

We are conditioned to turn our brains off when we see a software demo. We expect to have some sales guy take us through a whole slew of “features”, as if features are going to save you from an inferno.

Features are the inferno.

See, most of us buy features. We read the back of the book to get a summary of the features of the story, or we like to know that the new gum has a feature of long lasting flavor, and a chewey caramel center. Low calorie is a popular feature.

Brand is often used to convey the non-feature sides of a product. We buy Wrigley’s because it evokes a certain feeling.

But back to software. You see, there is no Wrigley’s in software, there is no BMW or Mercedes in software either, there are just features. We buy tires, rims, seats, steering wheels.. and often we buy them all separately in our mind. One at a time.

So when I get up and show you a smooth ride, safe handling and low fuel consumption, you freak out and start to wonder where the GPS Nav integrated drive shaft and auto trunk opener is.

The only thing harder than keeping features out of software is selling software that has very few features.

I just have to get you behind the wheel, you’ll never go back.