Why should I have to pay?

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On the PS Community Forums we've been discussing a new product to serve music and how that product gained some features that not everyone agrees with: specifically a headphone amplifier. The question asked is "why should I be required to pay for a feature I don't want?" This is an age old question and one worth examining.

Every feature on every product costs money to design in. Air bags on cars cost a lot of money yet you hopefully never use them. MOV protection on our power products are rarely ever activated but they cost everyone money to be included. A balance control on a preamplifier costs plenty but is almost never used - yet many will not purchase a product without one.

By adding a headphone amplifier to the upcoming music server we open up the possibility of attracting all those that enjoy music through headphones while, at the same time disappointingeveryone else that doesn't want the feature. It's a tough balance for any manufacturer figuring out what to include and not include.

The process I go through to decide is a mental use case. I mentally picture using the product in every situation it's designed to go into and when I reach a "gottcha" moment, I either fix it with an added feature or discard the use case thus sharpening the focus of the product.

Try the experiment yourself. Let's mentally design a simple product and then use it in our imagination. How about a simple add on app to our iPad controller that lowers the lights as soon as you play a track on the stereo? It starts out simple - preset a light level you wish to go to, tie the logic into the play button - your app is done.

What happens when you hit the pause button? The stop button? The phone rings? Different light levels for different volume levels (i.e. playing at concert levels for serious listening vs. background levels for getting stuff done)?

You can see how feature creep works and each of the use cases above requires money and time to program and, in the end, the customer who only wanted a simple light dimming feature has to pay for the unwanted case where the phone rings.

To add insult to injury, maybe they don't even have a phone.

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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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