Dave Winer isn’t someone I usually find myself in agreement with. However, in "focus on the users" Dave finds himself disagreeing with a Firefox person who concentrated on bashing Microsoft in a presentation that should have been about Firefox. Dave this is completely the wrong way round:
"Look, you don’t see Steve Jobs doing that. He’s thinking beyond Microsoft. Scott McNealy, the master of Microsoft bashing is retired, replaced with an exec who (surprise) is focused on rebuilding their business by understanding what Sun can do for users. Bill Gates, the great software warrior of the 20th century, is retiring too, replaced by a thoughtful man who’s crafting strategies to (guess what) create value for users and give them what he knows they want (by looking at how they’re adopting competitors’ products). In other words, if Firefox insists on a fight, they might find themselves fighting with no one, and impressing only the people who have hate in their hearts for people they don’t know. Thankfully that’s not a very large group of people, but unfortunatley, for those of us who use their product, that method does not, in any way, address our needs. Which is why I concluded that Firefox would leave us as cold, on our own and unfed, as Microsoft did."
This isn’t just true of Firefox, unfortunately: it’s endemic in business. Too many people concentrate far too much on their competition, rather than on their customers, to the detriment of their products.
Apple is a good example of how to do it. I doubt that Steve Jobs loses any sleep thinking about what Microsoft is going to do. Instead, he has a vision of what he wants Apple to do to shape the future, and of giving Apple’s customers something that works, well, for them. Note that this isn’t the same as giving customers what they want, because if all you do is ask customers what they want and implement that, you end up with Microsoft Word (how do you think all those features got added?)