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Great marketing begins with a great product.

Our industry is full of stories of amazing software development feats – people with vision who worked day and night, round the clock, to develop and launch product x, y, or z which became an overnight success.  The latest is Tweetie creator Loren Brichter, who gave a talk at Stanford University recently on the unexpected success he had experienced with this very popular iPhone application.  Go watch the video here.

A friend forwarded me this video after Guy Kawasaki tweeted it, with the following quick bulleted comments:

Very interesting discussion of Tweetie for iPhone, particularly:
– timing – 30000 lines of code by 1 developer in 2 weeks. 1 month from first line through Beta to live in app store
– $0 cost marketing
 

Loren’s is an inspiring story, but let’s not be too uncritical. After all:

  • He says that he wrote 30K lines of code in two weeks.  Even assuming he wrote code 16 hrs/day for two weeks, there are 13,440 coding minutes  over the period.  That means he wrote 2.23 lines of FINISHED code per minute for two solid weeks – over 2,000 lines per day.  I believe Loren is a talented developer, but this is a completely unbelievable assertion. Most top developers measure their productivity in high tens or low hundreds of lines per day, not thousands.
  • For marketing he absolutely spent money…  his sales volume were negligible for 7 periods on the graph he shows in the video, and then increased by 300% after he released Tweetie for Mac. For that release, he hired a web designer to redesign his UI and his web page, and he built a video to launch the Mac version. 

Loren’s passion for building a great user experience shines through in this video.  His most consistent marketing “tactic” has been to focus on building the best possible twitter client for iPhone.  At various times he pumped out a new feature release, and usage cranked up accordingly.  By the way, building the best product is a very good marketing tactic!  It’s also the way that most “overnight” successes are built – release, gather feedback, update, release.

As one of my mentors used to tell me in the 1990’s, 90% of great marketing is having a great product.

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