Your survival could depend on it!

Are you up to date with your user experience? I have been coveting my friend’s iPhone. It is true I have both a Palm Pilot and a Blackberry but the iPhone is getting more and more attractive. Not just because it has got a nice user interface, the reason is deeper.

I have a Macintosh. Palm made $1.6 billion dollars in 2006 but they haven’t updated their Macintosh software in several years, maybe even as much as a decade. The software is clunky, hard to use and it doesn’t integrate with Apple’s synchronization system, which lets everything else synchronize beautifully with the address book and the calendar.

Blackberry paid $450 million dollars to quit a patent suit early and resolve it so they could stay in business, and their software doesn’t properly handle certain types of calendar attachments. Their browser is poor and they don’t handle a type of e-mail accounts called IMAP, which let people have their mail on a central server and access it from many places.

Oh! And by the way and by the way, they have never bothered to come up with a way to synchronize with a Macintosh. From the user’s point of view that makes this products fairly difficult to use on the Mac without third party software and even with the third party software it is usually not as good and has bugs etc. etc.

But think about it for a minute: 1.6 billion dollars and Palm can’t be bothered to develop an updated version of 10-year old software? Hello! Blackberry 450 million dollars to settle a suit? Where is the $10 million dollars that they could use to make the Blackberry compatible with every existing calendar system, contact management system and sales management system in the world. They haven’t bothered.

I donâ’t know why they haven’t bothered but it doesn’t really matter because there is something out that there will work for me and that’s called an iPhone.

Palm is reported to be looking for a suitor because sales are down and they just don’t know what to do. Palm– update your system! Blackberry, I don’t know. They think the iPhones are a threat and until Blackberry realizes that people aren’t just buying a slick little package; they also wanted to work with their computer, well they are going to lose people to the iPhone as well.

One final example: I recently changed insurance companies and my new insurance company has no autopay option for my premiums. In the year 2008? Excuse me? It hasn’t occurred to them that the user experience for virtually every type of vendor (particularly one with recurring payments) now includes the ability to pay automatically either by credit card or by bank debit. Now it’s true in the short term that’s not going to make a difference. But it’s remarkable because they are the only bill in my entire life that has to be written out by hand every month.

If they are falling behind on that, what else are they falling behind on? So think about your product. Have you tried your competitor’s products lately? Have you noticed if sales are falling, where are people going instead of your product? When you use and evaluate the competitors, look at the whole experience and what you will find is that there are very compelling experiences out there, some of which may not be yours.

Leap on them, surpass them, develop your own experience, put some money into what it will take to make your product fun, happy, easy, simple and streamline to use and you just might find that you will be able to stay ahead of the competition instead of going to them asking them to buy you.

Update your user experience…or die!

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