Pleasing the 2% - why you should do new stuff

New app features that touch relatively few people? They're important.

By James Cridland
Posted 16 September 2014, 7.38am edt
Next Radio

At the Next Radio conference last week, Sarah Lumbard talked about NPR One, the app from NPR. I've already reviewed it, and been effusive with praise about it.

During the presentation - which you can watch on the Next Radio website for free - she said an interesting thing: she discussed NPR One's Chromecast support.

We released a new feature for them [the community of users] which was Chromecast. ... We've got tremendous kudos from the audience, saying "you heard, thank you - thank you for giving that to me".

Chromecast, an HDMI dongle for your TV which I've also reviewed here, allows you to 'cast' audio and video from your phone or laptop to your television.

A Chromecast - while it works really well - is certainly a minority interest. If you'd do any focus groups, I suspect you'd be hard-pressed to discover 2% of your users with one of these things. If the only thing that drives you is return on investment, you'd probably not bother with it.

But the only thing that matters isn't return on investment: it's also talkability. It's making your audience feel special.

If you can really please that portion of your userbase that use a particular device, then it's worthwhile doing so. Chromecast isn't much work; but the amount of "kudos" that is earnt by adding it is really interesting.

Much of the success of some of the projects I've worked on has been playing with new technology and new gadgets to see whether we can super-serve a small section of audience, rather than continually pandering to the masses.

By spending a little time supporting side-projects like Chromecast, Android Wear, Apple TV or Roku streaming boxes, you can delight those users who are using them; and also keep your software engineers new and intellectually stimulating projects.

Kudos is important - even from a small audience. NPR's a good example at showing the benefits of super-serving those users.

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.


5 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely my philosophy. I don't think the majority of people spend long enough thinking about new technology to work out what they want - goodness knows, it is had enough for professionals who are paid to spend all day doing it. I think it is really useful to try ideas even if you know they will initially reach only a small audience. Within a few hours that tiny audience will tell you more about the idea than any number of consultants, working parties or focus groups would have done in a year. Generate the ideas, get them out there, and then be diligent in weeding out the ones that don't grow.

5 years, 1 month ago

But, Rupert - consultants are good too, right? ;)

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