Lately I’ve been intrigued by situations in which the amount of effort required to complete a task is not overwhelming but it is enough to prevent the task from getting done. The latest example, from a couple of weeks ago, was wine journaling. Sure it only takes a few minutes to pull out a laptop, log into your wine-dot-whatever account and structure a proper review, but unless a few minutes becomes a few seconds, I’m out… and so are thousands of other people.
Minertia is what I might call it… short for a “minimal level of inertia”.
Many companies have succeeded primarily because their products overcome minertia. Twitter is a good example of this. There were millions of people with (purportedly entertaining) thoughts, but none of these thoughts were worth spending more than 30 seconds to publish. Twitter provided a way to turn these idle thoughts into legitimate published communication with 30 seconds of effort, and BAM, they are the hottest company on the internet.
On to more pedestrian matters though: recording stuff on TV.
I’ll use Tivo as an example because that’s what I have, but this could apply to any DVR, Apple TV, Boxee, etc etc:
Here is how I decide to add a show to the repertoire of things my Tivo records automatically:
As you can see, this sometimes equates to several minutes of work (I’ve spent over 15 minutes trying to do this on my iPhone). Again, we’re not talking about a huge time investment here, but it’s enough to require steps 1-3 whereas with a little minertia reduction, people might be willing to record shows the first time they hear about them.
What got me thinking about this was an interview with Rex I read yesterday. In it, he mentions Modern Family as the best show on TV right now (I say it’s Dexter or Million Dollar Listing, but whatever). Thankfully, Rex’s interview was about the third time I’d heard this so I bucked up and did step 4. But here’s how much easier it could be:
The effort would thusly be reduced to under 10 seconds.
As with the wine example, I fully expect someone to leave a comment pointing me to something that “kinda sorta” does this, but not in as optimal of a manner as I described above. Anybody know of something that does this? Or better yet, anyone work at Tivo and want to build this? :)
If you’re an iPhone developer, you probably struggle a lot with the issue of effort vs. revenue. In other words, you think you’ve thought of something cool and you don’t mind investing the time to produce it, but you just aren’t sure if anyone will actually pay for it.
Here’s an app that — if well done — I would pay $20 or more for:
Whenever I’m having a glass of wine, allow me to snap a picture of the bottle (or the barcode from the bottle) and within 30 seconds enter some very basic information about it:
Once I hit submit, save this to my wine library database, accessible via iPhone or web browser.
Are there other wine rating apps and services available right now? Definitely. But unfortunately none of them pass the 30 second test. They don’t even pass the 5 minute test. Usually when you’re in the middle of drinking wine — whether at a wedding, a party, at dinner, or in a dark alley — spending 5 minutes typing notes into your iPhone is just not something you’d ever consider doing… and this is the critical void that no one has filled yet.
It should be “snap, select, select, done”. By reducing the effort required to create a personal wine note library to this simple 30 second routine, you’d be enabling thousands of recreational wine drinkers to do something they’ve never been able to do before: actually remember what wines they try and which ones they like. That level of detail, in most cases, is all people really need, and it’s something I am 100% sure many would gladly pay for.
Ok then, who’s going to step up? I’ll be your first sale.
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