Purple Cow has really gotten me thinking about compromise in product development.

As Seth Godin writes, “Compromise is about sanding down the rough edges to gain buy-in from other constituencies. Vanilla is a compromise ice cream flavor…But vanilla is boring. You can’t build a fast-growing company around vanilla.”

Well, the problem is that you can’t anymore!

Compromise generally worked when the focus was on mass markets. It was how you could be “appealing enough” to large numbers of people.

At the annual SIIA Content Division meeting earlier this year Neil Budde, General Manager of Yahoo! news, talked about how information has always been distributed in bundles. Creating that bundle involved compromise. It had to cater to the largest part of the audience consuming it in order to keep circulation up and keep advertisers interested. Compromise was profitable – until there was a more accessible and customizable alternative to the bundle.

When online news came along, people started to consume only the portion of the offering that appealed to them. They suddenly had many options to fulfill a broader spectrum of their interests and these options weren’t all created by traditional journalists!

Suddenly consumers could act as their own filter, not relying on professionals to determine their choices. Consumers started selecting information for themselves and sharing those choices with others (go look at: del.icio.us, flickr, and squidoo).

With all of these exciting options, how can we expect people to continue to buy the static bundle for the masses? People are moving past that now.

It’s no longer about compromise, it’s about being remarkable!

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