Scope Creep or Scope Leap ? The problems of swinging ambitions

The magnitude of the implications of the scope change from aiming to be “the best mobile keyboard” to “one keyboard to rule them all” is so huge that better sinks in looking into other cases.

For example these guys:
Planet Computers - Gemini PDA - Now Cosmo Communicator

They are into their 2nd Indiegogo successful campaign.
Regardless if you are into this kind of product or not, it is so obvious they always knew exactly what they wanted to be. Zero confusion. 100% unchanging clarity.

They knew perfectly well that - in their case - they were a niche product covering specific uncovered needs of a particular group of people (in this case previous owners of palmtops such as Psion, etc).

They never aimed to be the “phone to rule them all”, and dethrone Apple, Samsung and company. If they would, you can clearly imagine how they would have never launched anything yet. Always getting feedback from their Treggers and measuring what they needed to solve to be able to compete despite being a very tiny company and be able to service the huge crowds soon to come.

They would still be on the drawing board, with ever changing very complex intermediate goals to accomplish, and with the finish line always a little farther away with no end in sight. (You can easily imagine that, right ?)
If this went on and on, they could run out of money, of loose energy and interest in the effort driving themselves into obscure oblivion.

BUT, that did not happen to them. They have already launched for real and are into the 2nd iteration of the product addresing shortcomings of the 1st gen.

Perhaps, in a few more iterations they could get more ambitious and aim to tackle the big boys, but not now when they are an unknown player with zero market strength.

Clear - and unwavering - scope can be a source of strength or can be the Achilles Heel of any project. No matter how marvelous the product, it can be dead on arrival because of this.

This could easily be the thing that prevents WT from launching the TB, ever. WT seems to be trying to bite a huge lot more than they can really chew and set themselves impossible goals. Why else are we close into the 4th year and no end in sight.
You can lie to yourself and disguise the lack of business clarity as “constant unforeseen critical technical hurdles because we innovate so much”, but for 4 years in a row, and counting ? Come on.

Please guys, redefine a short term product goal that you can tackle now, stick to it and deliver promptly a 1st gen. LEAVE the permanent - and cozy - drawing board.

ONLY THEN, rethink if you can conquer the world. (Not even Apple in their beginning aimed to be the one that rules them all - that came later).

You first need to get to be a contender - after launching. Then you can aim to challenge the champion.
Not before you ever stepped into the ring, and no, shadow boxing does not count (Treggers).

More worrisome is that communication has clearly been getting weaker and weaker. We have just a few minor posts here and there. Overall extremely weak communication in 2018.
We have zero clarity of where we are. These few minor posts always mention the next critical hurdle to overcome. But we have no knowledge how many yards in this race remain. 100?, 5000?, 100,000?

These guys at Planet Computers have delivered already early in 2018, and have a clear date to ship 2nd Gen in June 2019. What about you guys ?

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Have a guess why their version 1 is obsolete after a few months.

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For a quick schedule, the recipe is simple - repackage old tech.

There’s tons of commodity products 3 clicks away on amazon. The problem is folks don’t want those anymore.

What’s needed is meaningful, dramatic innovation. That’s quite hard, but treg users reckon we’ve done that.

Sorry for the time that takes, but that’s the job here.

It’s different, and it’s worth doing.

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I got busy with something so delayed responding and now I see WT has beaten me to at least part of what would say.

I may well have missed something about the Cosmo as I only skimmed the info, but I just don’t see anything new in it (tech-wise). Oh, I think it has some advantages over other things. Certainly there is an advantage in opening up such a device and being able to use a keyboard without taking out a separate keyboard - same advantage an iPad has with a keyboard cover. Which is also why it isn’t unusual for me to pull out a phone or tablet and type or the screen rather than get out the TB because I’m just going to type a tiny bit.

But other than that advantage, which is purely situational, I don’t see the advantage of the Cosmo over most smart phones with a TB. There is the 2 inch screen on the outside which may be useful - or not. After all, an iPhone’s screen is visible for notifications. The 6 inch screen inside is about the same size as smart phones now - a little bigger than some (like 5.8 inch iPhone X) or smaller than others. They call the screen “ultra wide”, which sounds impressive. But does that mean it is narrower than my iPhone X? I can’t find the numbers for that - just the diagonal. I’d like the square inches.

It is bigger in all dimensions than my iPhone. While it is definitely more convenient to just open and be able to type, I suspect I would NOT like that much bulk in my shirt pocket. I carry my phone there all the time and my TB in my pants pocket. If nothing else is in that pants pocket, I hardly notice it. If there is other stuff then, yeah, I will notice the difference pretty easily.

From reviews, it seems to have a pretty poor keyboard.

So, given a choice, would I rather have a Cosmo or an iPhone X plus a TB? For me it is an easy choice. The iPhone will have a better screen, be less bulky, and the TB will be WAY better than the Cosmo keyboard. OTOH, the Cosmo would be cheaper, all in one package for quicker access to keyboard, and has more pixels in the camera. But pixels are only part of what matters. More pixels can still result in a worse camera, and that’s before you factor in the software capabilities of a given device to improve them. And I’m comparing to this “improved second generation” they are promoting!

Or maybe not a lie at all but actual unforeseen (at least to the extent that has happened) technical hurdles with pretty much all new tech that the Cosmo isn’t doing.

Not surprised about WayTools or DBK’s responses. Both making excuses why they can’t ship the “Ultimate portable keyboard” today. Because we are waiting on shipping the “Perfect input device”.

You both missed “wouldlovetobuy”'s point. This other company shipped. Whether it as innovative as a TextBlade or not. Waytools is going on 4 years of development with no updates or General Release in the foreseeable future. And WayTools lousy customer relations and communication has made it’s customers even angrier.

Please don’t cancel my order

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I have a Gemini. The keyboard is not as clever as the textblade. It’s not as small either. It’s very usable. I use it a lot because I can pull it out of my pocket, open it and type standing up. The Textblade is portable but not mobile. You can’t use it standing up and it takes some time, if short, to set it up.

Most importantly it’s available. We’re now using it for our mobile forms apps.

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Thank you. I do try to be consistently logical. Hey, if you can get frustrated about not shipping yet, I can be sarcastic to people who try to keep writing off what Treggers say just because they have a TB.

BTW, the only people who have claimed the goal is the “perfect input device” are people like you. Not WT. Not Treggers.

I didn’t miss his point. I showed why the situations are totally different, which counters his point. As for communication issues, I’ve criticized those quite regularly. Because those criticisms make sense.

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I guess both DBK and WT missed the point completely. Pls guys re-read the post.

The point is about scope and having clarity on what you want to accomplish from the get go, and the impact of changing scope.

Said company is already on a path to launch Gen 2 of a product (that could be appealing to you or not), while WT is still in the eternal drawing board. And that is thanks that they are very clear on what they want to accomplish.

P.S.: I suggest a little more humility too. These guys at Planet Computers deserve respect. They set out to accomplish something. And they delivered it. Being criticized by someone who has not launched their gen 1 “perfect” product innovation sounds a tad too arrogant.

P.S.2: SHADOW BOXING DOES NOT COUNT - a few units in a controlled test group does not equate to a product launch. If you go online now, you can buy from Planet Computers’ store the V1 gen.
Can I do the same with the TB?
You want to go head to head with the likes of Logitech and co. but you only have a product IDEA and test units. NOTHING to brag about. Rather petty to look down on somebody you should be looking up to…

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You keep thinking that these are comparable situations. Rearranging existing tech may produce a useful product but it isn’t going to face the problems new tech does. And many of them will be unpredictable.

Nor do you know how important the remaining issues are. Neither do we. But we do know there have been issues and realize that only WT can determine the next step.

We also know that giving out some kinds of info just helps competitors know what to focus on. Yet I think WT could tell us more.

Even if so technical hurdle prevents ever shipping, they have much to brag about.

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I guess this is extremely important to some…

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They are comparable. Forget about Planet Computer’s product per se.

Planet Computer knew what they wanted to accomplish. Knew that in their case they were going to be a niche product, but who their target was and did not start swinging ambitions with no proper thought. If they had, and somebody said “this is just rearranging old tech (debatable), let’s tackle Samsung and Apple with some REAL innovation”, would they be on a path to launch Gen 2 now ?

WT, on the other hand announced a product almost 4 years ago that was going to be available shortly. They switched from aiming to be a “great mobile keyboard” to a “keyboard to rule them all” and got themselves into all sorts of additional trouble and added complexity. They started addressing things that perhaps would have been better left to a gen 2 or gen 3 design probably, and thus they never launched anything yet.

Unicorns do not exist and the perfect TB neither. Whenever they launch they will find things to improve in a future release.

Paralysis by analysis is real.

You probably have better data than I do. Jumps and other stuff was not mentioned until much later.

A more limited gen 1 is not bad per se. You get yourself out in the market, get reviews, get your brand name known, while you build the next gen.

It might not be perfect, but it is better that the alternative which is still be an unknown player who has not launched their product yet.

And why can we never know when we aim to launch ? How mean months, years or decades are left ? Any product manager in a bigger company would have gotten fired probably.

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P.S.: you do know who the “ultimate rearranger” of old tech is, right ?

Apple. They never were the first to market new tech, but were almost always the best at marketing it. So much better that people forgets who the first movers were.
A gazillion examples abound, from smartphones, tablets, music players.

So nothing bad in rearranging older tech into a better product marketed better.

Aaaand, nothing beats availability.
I might go and buy one of the Planet Computer gizmos as I loved my Psion. It is available now.

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@gsullymorgan -

Yes, while standing, you can hold the Gemini in your hands, and type with thumbs.

But a generic android phone already does that well, at less than half the size, weight, and cost.

At a table, even their own promos show index finger hunt-and-peck on the shrunken key spacing.

Touch typing means all fingers make characters, without looking.

That’s a different use case, and what TextBlade is designed for.

With Gemini’s candybar-sized keyboard permanently hinged, you have to open the clamshell just to use the phone, and portrait apps are awkward to hold.

The new version adds another small 2” lcd on back shell to mitigate those complaints, but can’t show you the same info as just glancing at your phone screen.

Planet repackaged a standard Android engine with the Psion keyboard redux. It’s an interesting marketing program, rather than new tech. Psion was awesome, and had a great following before Blackberry and iPhone entered. But over 17 years, the environment has changed.

Will folks really ditch their Android / iPhone to carry a Gemini? Will they want to carry both? Those are questions entirely independent of TextBlade. There is a niche for Gemini, which is not aimed at the masses who use smartphones.

TextBlade transforms any iPhone into a powerful workstation. Yet your phone stays small, and unencumbered. TextBlade stays in your pocket until you want touch typing.

This is a very different market from the pre-iPhone PDA paradigm of the 90’s.

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Oh, well. I give up. I guess I cannot convey the point well.
Nothing to do with the product per se.
and BTW, if you read above I was the one that brought them up.
(just don’t cancel my order)

P.S.: My grandma had a saying that is difficult to translate but very appropriate:
There is nobody “more deaf”, than somebody who does not want to listen

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@wouldlovetobuy - Your point was well understood. This distills to a simple choice -

  • If you want speed, go for the repackaged and remarketed goods.

  • If you want next level performance, it takes a different kind of crew to pull that off.

A marketer is all about speed, and an innovator is totally focused on delivering a true leap.

Both are legitimate approaches, but they produce very different products.

It’s why you can’t get an AirPower right now, announced in 2017 by the largest company in the world. Apple encountered unexpected challenges and is working through them.

Those guys truly innovate, and it’s hard work.

And that sort of work must be done to higher standards. But that’s what delivers the change we love.

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