Product Development done smart - case study with Microsoft How-Old
Have you tried How-Old.net yet? If not, most of your contacts certainly have! But what is hidden behind this viral concept? Product development and data collection done smart with Microsoft.
You have certainly seen hundreds of pictures similar to the one below flourish on your Social Media pages in the past few weeks. Where do they come from? How-old.net. The Microsoft-owned website enables you to upload a photo and promises to guess people's gender and age as accurately as possible.
The fact that the result is wrong over 50% of the time makes the concept funny and turns it into a viral tool. The following analyzes the idea of such strategy in a product development environment.
Product development - large test at low cost
What seems to be a nice and free app is nothing more than a large-scale product testing.
Microsoft is developing some new technology to add to future products and requires some testing. Hiring a testing panel can be very costly and not quite accurate. Instead, the Microsoft team thinks smart and launches a funny adaptation of their product that could go (and went) viral and provide them, for free, with tons of data to analyze.
Product development is a science that requires a lot of trials and errors and data analysis. Do you know the concepts of product life cycle, death valley curve or marginal utility? You might want to read moe about these Product Development Concepts.
Is it ethical?
Creating a system collecting people's data for greater development is certainly a smart idea. But how ethical is it to do such thing without clearly informing the users?
In Marketing like in Product Development, finding the ethical limit can be very difficult.
The easiest way to identify a potential threat is to put yourself in your users' shoes: would I appreciate getting my data collected without prior information?
In the Microsoft's case, photos are claimed to be automatically deleted from their server - the risk is then very limited.
Development of your product - how to test it on a larger scale?
Now that you have a concrete example with Microsoft, how to adapt it to your own product?
Start by identifying the aspect of your product your try to enhance then how this specific element could appeal to a large audience.
Once you have the answer, the next step will be to prepare a platform, as simple to use as possible, that will provide the user with an exciting experience. Do not underestimate the viral aspect: if it is easy to use, fun, and easily shared, it has great potential for becoming epidemic!
Once launched, mobilize all your Social Networks and friends to use it! It only takes one good user to make the concept viral!
Before you start running into the creation stage, take one step back and identify your objectives: what type of data you wish to collect and how are you planning on using it. Both for legal reasons (you don't want to be sued for illegal usage of private information!) and for efficiency reasons (better know where you go before hitting the road), it is smarter to have a proper plan.
If you are ready to go deeper, I invite you to read my free Ebook about Product Development.
Last update: 2018-01-15 Tags: #HowOldRobot product develoment microsoft