What Does a Product Manager Do?

Woke up this morning to the following on Twitter.

Obviously there are a lot of great answers to this question. However, this got me thinking about the question itself. The question is not about what a PM delivers or works on. It is about what they “do”? In other words, the question is from the perspective of an outsider or a stakeholder in an organization.

So I wanted to focus on the impact of a good PM can have in the organization as a way to answer this question. Hence, I am purposely not discussing product discovery, roadmaps, stories, etc. This is something I discuss with my team frequently. I like having these in the back of their mind whenever taking any action or decision. I break these down into five parts.

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Is Bigger Really Better?

For years I have been openly bashing the notion of phablets. I find it crazy that anyone could hold that big a device up to their ears and have a conversation. It’s like people are buying phones like they buy TVs…

After lot of conversations and heated debates with friends on social media, I decided to delve in and try it for myself. I needed the insider view on the subject.

So finally bought the iPhone 6S Plus late last year. I did that via the new Apple iPhone upgrade program. That way I could switch within a year if I wanted. Frankly, this is an experiment with this form factor and the rest of the post is about my assessment so far after approximately 4 months of use.

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It’s not the Specs, stupid!

We live in the Post PC world. Don’t believe me? Next time you are on a flight, just walk to the restroom and see how many people are on their laptops versus tablets or smartphones.

In this Post PC world, we act and think differently. PCs and Laptops were primarily purchased for work (or gaming). The decision to purchase a computer was always based on how powerful and effective it was to support your work/gaming needs.

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Discontinuing the Cable TV Service

Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

How many times you have turned on the TV, only to find that there is nothing good on it. Unless you are watching during primetime, there is nothing worth spending your valuable time. Invariably you keep flipping channels and end up settling for something half decent. The problem is that, networks have shows on a pre-defined schedule, which works for them. However, it doesn’t always work for the individual who has to schedule his/her life around it. From top of my head here are some issues with the Cable/Satellite broadcast TV model.

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Get Fed via FriendFeed

Do you post tweets on Twitter? Do you upload pictures to Flickr? Do you post videos on YouTube? Can’t get enough blogging done in a day? Then FriendFeed is just the right thing for you and your friends.

Built with the same concept as “News Feed” on Facebook, FriendFeed let’s you aggregate your activities and subscribe to all the activities of your friends. Once configured FriendFeed accesses your activity from the external service(s) via back-end custom integrations. The data is retrieved periodically and aggregated into a unified stream of activities. Your friends and family then can subscribe to this aggregated feed and access all your activities across multiple services.

FriendFeed Config

Unlike other RSS feed splicers, FriendFeed has implemented custom integrations to external services to offer access to various types of activities. For example once configured FriendFeed can access your blog posts, new media from YouTube / Flickr, new Diggs, new DVD selections at Netflix and many more.

As a user not only you can aggregate your feed, you can also subscribe to aggregated feeds of other interesting individuals. The service then allows you to comment on specific feed items or like / dislike it. This encourages community interactions between the users and their subscribers.

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Carnival of Mobilists

This week’s carnival (#114) is hosted at Chetan Sharma’s blog. As always he has a great collection of posts. This time the focus is on the recently announced iPhone SDK. He was kind enough to include my post on the subject as well.

In addition to the arnival, do not forget to checkout his post on the 2007 US wireless market update. As always he has done an amazing job of collecting the most valuable insights into the US wireless market.

iPhone SDK, the New Walled Garden?

Thursday’s announcement from Apple was pretty impressive. I never expected to see such a complete execution of the SDK program. Apple really looked at this from a 360 degree angle and nailed almost everything:

  • App Development
  • Testing and debugging
  • Deployment, distribution and discoverability
  • Business model
  • VC funding for developers
  • Rich developer program and support

Apple’s approach to this makes anyone else look pretty pale. Compare this to Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile or any carrier’s development program. Almost everywhere else one has to deal with various parties and many restrictions before they can get their application on the phone. Apple has really offered a one stop shop to the eager developers.

However for me the fun part kinda stops there. The early excitement has somewhat waned at this point. I am sure you all know what I am talking about. The fact that Apple will not allow 3rd party background processes to run on the iPhone. This means that users cannot switch back and forth between applications seamlessly. Once you switch applications the previous one shuts down. This is a very realistic scenario where users can receive calls, text/email messages while using an application.

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Google Apps on CrackBerrys, RIM FORE!

I was over at GigaOm and came across a post from the man himself. It was about the new calendar sync application from Google for BlackBerrys. Just to give you a quick background here, Google has been rapidly releasing mobile applications for the BlackBerry platform, for its favorite services. So they support GMail, Search, Picasa, Maps and News. They launched these services in early December.

So the calendar sync impresses me the most. They have smartly integrated the native BlackBerry calendar with the Google Calendar in a bi-directional fashion. So any entries added to the Google Calendar online shows up on the handset within the native view and anything added within the native view is updated online.

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Another Day, Another Amazon Web-Service

Hot off the press, Amazon AWS has yet another new web service. This one is called DevPay and is squarely aimed at entrepreneurial developers. Frankly these guys are punching out web services by the dozen.

I particularly like this service as it allowing the developer to further focus on the applications and leave the business aspects to DevPay. Developers can enable applications using other services like S3, EC2 and SimpleDB. Once the apps are ready they can use DevPay to sell them with creative business models.

Many web service providers end up using credit cards or PayPal, which require some effort to configure appropriately. Not to mention security and privacy hassles when dealing with credit card transactions. Seems like DevPay simplifies all that.

Go ahead and check it out yourself. With these new offerings, the AWS portfolio is getting quite potent and headed towards next generation of hosting. I may have to follow-up with a detailed post.