Price Is A Feature

By Spicer Matthews

In general, I tend to use top-quality products. This might not be for all things in my life (just look at my car) but it is true for most things that I really care about or use on a regular basis. I tend to seek the best of the best. Lately, I have been noticing a new data point in my decision making process: price.

I can think of several specific examples when price was a tipping point that made me use one product over another:

  • I really like my Android Nexus 7 tablet. In fact, I am in love with it. However, when I compare it to the iPad, I sort of wonder why I love it when the iPad is so much more loveable. When I compare the two, I realize that I’m more drawn to the iPad. Yet I own a Nexus 7.
  • I’m also in love with GitHub (such a great service). Side-by-side, GitHub is a better product than Bitbucket in all accounts. But I find myself using Bitbucket more.
  • I am madly in love with Linode. It’s a far better product than Digital Ocean, but more and more of my needs are migrating to Digital Ocean.

In all of these examples, I’ve found myself actually using the less expensive product. If price wasn’t a factor, I would only be using an iPad, Github, and Linode.

If a product is complete crap, however, price is not a feature. Price tends to be a feature if a product is “good enough.” It has to have some basic levels of quality.

It seems, for me at least, that price also has an emotional aspect. It’s the same emotional reaction you get when you see the retina display on an iPad for the first time. The emotion of using something that is “just good” for less is emotional.

I think the reason I like my Nexus 7 so much is its “shelf life.” When you pay up for an iPad you feel you have to use it for many years to get your money’s worth, and you know it will be “obsolete” well before then. When the next new thing comes out I can easily leave my Nexus 7 to collect dust and not feel like I wasted money.

As a product maker, I have to wonder, is price a short-term feature?