“Feature Creep”

Surowiecki, James

The New Yorker, May 28, 2007

p. 28

Engineers keep packing more features into products, and salespeople can usually persuade buyers that all these features are desirable. Given a choice, people will buy something that has more features than its rivals. The problem is that once buyers become users they get exasperated by the difficulties of using the features. Many products are returned in perfect condition by frustrated buyers. They’ll spend an average of twenty minutes with their TV, camera, cellphone–you name it–and if they can’t figure it out, to heck with it. Already in 2003 Microsoft Word had twenty-one toolbars and over fifteen hundred commands. BMW’s “original iDrive system was intended to give drivers unprecedented control over navigation, temperature, and entertainment through a single device,” but it proved so hard to use that someone called it “arguably the biggest corporate disaster” since new Coke. “The strange truth about feature creep is that even when you give customers what they want they can still end up hating you for it.”