Ben Langhinrichs

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October, 2005
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Genii Weblog


Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Thu 6 Oct 2005, 08:42 AM
I was watching Apollo 13 with my wife and kids the other day (a great movie, by the way), and I was struck by scene in which Ken Mattingly is reworking and reworking the reentry procedures to eke out four more amps.  He tries and tries various scenarios, and finally squeaks in just under the required threshold.

Which brings me to a seemingly unrelated question that a Midas customer asked the other day:
Why is that a CoexLinks server license costs $7500 US, a CoexEdit server license costs $5000 US and a Midas Rich Text LSX server license costs $2500 US?
Well, let's see.  CoexLinks solves one very distinct problem, very well, but still just one problem.  CoexEdit solves a range of distinct but related problems having to do with rich text editing in Notes and on the web.  Midas solves a whole universe of problems.  So that doesn't really explain it.

Let's try again.  CoexLinks solves a very specific business need in a highly necessary way and replaces a very expensive alternative (recoding lots of apps).  CoexEdit solves a more general, but still fairly specific, business need in a highly desirable way and replaces an unpleasant alternative (sticking to Notes only or web only apps).  Midas solves a very wide range of business needs, some critical, some not, and replaces some very untenable alternatives.  Hmm, we are getting closer, but this still doesn't seem like enough.

How about this?  It is all about the amps.  CoexLinks can be installed and configured in ten minutes by an administrator and requires no design modifications.  CoexEdit can be integrated into a database in a few hours to a day, and requires only fairly discrete and well defined design changes.  Midas is a programming extension, and requires building a solution or adapting an existing sample.  Now, that explains matters.

The real world is a complex and busy place.  Consider why most people would pay considerably more for a house with a re-done kitchen in "move in" condition than for a "fixer upper".  First, they don't have the time or energy to fix it up or even hire contractors to fix it up.  Second, they know ahead of time how it will turn out.  The same could be said of software.  With CoexLinks, the administrator can stop the server, install, change the NOTES.INI to add a couple of lines, start up the server and see exactly what he/she is going to get.  We had one customer who got an evaluation license, put it on his development server and sent some messages through.  He liked it so much, put it on his production server right away.  He liked it so much, he called up with a credit card to order a production license and asked if he could simply replace the evaluation license and not have to take down the production server again.  This was less than two hours after he requested the evaluation license, the equivalent of getting offers on the day you put your house on the market.

Why did he buy an expensive piece of software in under two hours?  Because it took few enough amps.  Why do people sell/buy on eBay?  It takes few enough amps. 

So what can we learn from this?  There isn't a heck of a lot we can do about Midas except build better and better samples.  People do sometimes "buy Send It!" which is just a sample app, but does what they need well enough to avoid much additional work.  So, we could build more of those.  With CoexEdit, we have a great opportunity to drive down the amperage, and I am doing my best Ken Mattingly imitation to try to find ways to drive this closer to a plug in like CoexLinks.  With CoexLinks, we need to focus mostly on not making it more complex.

How about your products?  Any way you can make your products take fewer amps to start up and use?  How about your skills?  Any way you can package your skills in a way that makes them easier to consume?  There are not many amps to spare out there, folks.  Can you conserve a few?

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