Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The floor wax/dessert topping revisited

I take notes when I attend conferences. Sometimes the notes are even related to the conference topics.

This one was, at best, tangentially related. Those who attended last month's APMP Socal Chapter Training Day - the last-ever APMP Socal Chapter Training Day, by the way - may realize why this particular thought crept into my head:

If Excel had the ability to create Gantt charts, would that be a valid feature, or would that be feature creep/bloat/jumping the shark?

Whenever I think about two unrelated things being put together, I think back to Shimmer. Older people may recall that Shimmer was a fake product advertised on an early Saturday Night Live - a product that was both a floor wax and a dessert topping.

I've used Shimmer as an example before. In 2009, I noted that InformationWeek's Bob Evans questioned HP's then-CEO Mark Hurd, asking why HP remained in both the business and consumer markets. More recently, I asked if Steve Ballmer was correct in asserting that people wanted a single device that could function both at work and at home. Ballmer claimed that people did want such a device, and that Microsoft Surface was the device that met their needs.

Does it pay off to have one company or device or product do two totally different things, or are we better off having two separate companies or devices or products? This question is not confined to the technology world. Stroll down the medicine aisle in your local drug store, and you'll see that half the products combine several different medicines into a single pill, while the other half of the products only provide you with the medicine that you need, without loading you up with other stuff.

Is there a clear case in which either the combined solution or the separate solutions are preferred?
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