I recently purchased a Gillette Fusion razor from a drugstore having forgotten to pack one in my over night back on the business trip I was on. A few weeks later, I got back home and added the razor to my collection (I have been known to forget such things on the never ending barrage of trips that I take). I packed my bag on my European trip and rather unsuspectingly packed a few Mach 3 blades along with the Fusion razor. So far so good? Well not really. When I came to use a Mach 3 blade with the Fusion razor I realized that it didn't fit! Upon closer inspection, I realized that the razor on the Fusion had been specifically designed so as to not fit with the previous generation Mach 3 blades.
While on the topic - another interesting observation. The blades on the Fusion razor feature a lubricant strip that changes color from green to white. This marks the point at which the blade needs to be changed - according to the manufacturer. The interesting thing is that this strip must have been designed by engineers in the earlier Mach 3 version and by sales in the Fusion version. Why I hear you ask? The strip on the Mach 3 version took much longer to change color compared to the newer Fusion one.
There are a few lesson in this.
#1 - Interoperability designed in - the ability to use one version of a blade with the razor from another - is something that customers expects. Designing this out of products is ultimately harmful to consumers and harmful to adoption of the product. I for one will be a lot more diligent when buying these products in future.
#2 - Features designed to benefit sales without having a direct correlation to an end customer value proposition are a mockery. In this case ensuring that the color of the strip on the blade changes to white from green more quickly simply means that customers will ignore the strip.
As it relates to high technology, the moral of this story is twofold:
- make sure your product are inter-operable with one another - and better still, based on industry standards such as JEE, so that they inter- operate with other people's products too
- build features that ultimately benefit your customer and make life easier for them rather than drive sales of your own product