Yes, all of us believe one must listen to customers. But there are times (may be in creating disruptive innovation) it’s hard to rely only on what customers say. May be you must listen to their problems but not rely on customers too much in finding the solution.
I bet no one ever they said they wanted a portable music player – when Sony created the walkman. No one asked for a FAX machine when Xerox started building them. So when every one say “What do with an iPad” or “How can there be no keypad” don’t underestimate the possibilities of doing things very differently from ever before. When Apple got rid of button for a track wheel, it changed the way one listens to music (not that a car radio tuner worked very differently for ever !!)
I just read about Swype – a new way to type in touch screens. It’s from the same guys which created the auto complete for SMS texting on mobile phones … now a standard feature on MNs of phones. The new form factor seems to have inspired a completely different way of typing … that may for ever change the meaning of UI like the humble mouse.
David Heinemeier, the founder of 37Signals and creator of Ruby on Rails said it best … “It’s good to be market driven … know what’s going on, but you can’t let your customers drive your product development. You need to be able to innovate on behalf on your customers … You need to be able to source inputs from a lot of sources, and then have your vision of what that’s going to be and then drive that.”
So what do you think?