Friday, May 18, 2007

Segmentation is the software future

Current software has business origin. When personal computers started (and that is around 25 years ago), they were also technology driven, just like almost every innovation. That means they were more focused on pushing technology limits further, than on making things friendly for business users. As time passed by, user orientation started to appear, and it improved over years. As Microsoft was and still is dominant in this area, the development can be tracked in transition from MS-DOS to Windows and constant improvement from one Windows version to another (most significantly from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95). But still, this user friendliness was business user friendliness. If it was more home user friendly, it was to large extent a plain accident.

After some time, people at Microsoft probably realized this, and they did something to improve at home user field by relasing Windows Media Center Edition. Though it is a huge step forward, one must say that this just a patch for the system that was never projected with home users in mind.

On the other hand, most of the software-hardware platforms that were more oriented towards home user extincted in the early 90s. Amiga and Atari are leading examples of this. The most close relative that survived evolution is MacOS. And it is not an accident that it excels in home environment.

It is not hard to conclude that home users and business users have significantly different needs, and that future software should be developed for each group separately. At home, people expect their computers to work like gadgets, and software should focus on that. At business, people expect their computers to be productive and secured machines, in most situations for document/information crunching. I think that both segments are more than big enough to be economically viable. Unfortunately, current software mostly forgets about home users and treats them just like business users. And business users don't pass here perfectly either, as they get unwanted and distracting piece of bundle that home users might want, just to ensure that everyone will feel fine.

Just to say that I think that this relates to most pieces of software one can imagine. For example, browsers. Business users usually need to track some information which regularly appears/updates on some site. Last generations of browsers have several tools for this like RSS integration and opening several tabs as home page which might help. But browsers were not made with this idea in mind, they are just versatile machines which may also work in this situation. On the other hand, home users are more after fun, news reading, connecting with others. And again, browsers help in this but they were not made for this.

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