I get approached by people with product ideas every week. Sometimes every day. In almost every case, it involves building an iOS/Android/Web app.
To each of these eager folks, I pose the same question:
“What specific, repetitive problem are you solving for the user?”
You will be surprised – almost everyone starts spouting a lot of technobabble, talking about features and coolness.
But none of them have a problem statement that they are addressing.
Unless you can clearly state what repetitive problem you are solving for the user, you aren’t building a product – you are just massaging your programming ego.
An app that shows you where the nearest bus/taxi stand is, or what it will cost you to get from point A to B, is far more valuable to a user than an app that has flashy buttons, smooth scrolling photos, and 25 image filters.
An app that lists all Indian holidays for the year, with links to Wikipedia for each of them, is more valuable than an app with a photo of Ganesha that plays devotional music if you shake it.
Why? Because in each case, the first app repeatedly solves a very specific problem for the user, while the second app has short-term curiosity value.
“Useful” beats “cool” beats “downloads” beats “have an app in the appstore” beats “wannabe developer”.
If you have any comments, or wish to discuss this post, please do so on Twitter, where I interact under the ID @AtulChitnis