Monday, March 24, 2003

Abstraction: the New Gibberish

Contemporary software marketing seems to have created a taboo against saying specifically what the product actually is or does. Instead, all description must be so abstracted that every product sounds the same, no matter what it is. It must focus not on the product itself but on the heavenly bliss which follows purchase. This frees potential buyers to imagine the product as being whatever they need.

Hardware vendors do not generally do this -- yet. A company selling a wireless router admits that it is a wireless router, rather than trying to call it a "data interchange solution." But I suppose it is only a matter of time before everyone gets on the abstraction bandwagon.

For example, if I sell lawn sprinklers, I cannot come right out and say that the product is a lawn sprinkler with a flow rate of X gallons/minute and a coverage of Y square meters. After all, such specifics might alienate potential customers who do not have lawns or the need to irrigate anything. Abstraction to the rescue!

Instead I would describe the product by saying that it "helps living organisms to thrive" and "unlocks the potential growth inherent in your environment." The updated pitch for the FrobSys Lawn Sprinkler might go something like this:

In today's competitive environment, it is more important than ever to increase ROI while keeping a tight rein on TCO, building out capacity while decreasing time to market. FrobSys can help you achieve your dreams. The FrobSys Distribution Module helps living organisms to thrive by giving them the resources they need to compete, and unlocks the potential growth inherent in your environment. We can design a customized, scalable solution for you today.

Not bad for a lawn sprinkler.

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