I’ve written about releasing early before. I think it’s a good game plan for most web-based applications.
But when is it worth waiting a little bit?
Dick Costolo says we should release late and use the extra time to make the product extensible.
“The bottom line being that you want to invest pre-launch such that you optimize for innovation post-launch.”
I like the idea of making it easy to add features to later versions. His milk shake analogy is a must-read. He explains how taking a little longer and making things extensible can beat first-movers in the long run.
The trouble I see with this approach is that it takes a lot of patience to keep the momentum moving for a product one isn’t sure will be accepted. And if ideas need execution, then getting something, anything out is better than turning your wheels waiting for perfection.
Maybe great project managers can pull this sort of thing off. Maybe someone who has a great vision of a product can do it. Maybe it takes extreme focus that many big companies don’t even have.
Most likely, as Costolo acknowledges in the comments, it takes a hybrid of early and late approaches. Which has worked best for you?