I like Apple for the opposite reason: they’re not afraid of getting a rudimentary 1.0 out into the world.

What killed us was “one more thing.” We could have easily done three major releases that year if we had drawn a line in the sand, said “finished,” and shipped the darn thing.

On WordPress.com we deploy code to production twenty or thirty times a day and anyone in the company can do it.
— Matt Mullenweg (2010) 1.0 is the loneliest number

I think that Matt made a good argument, and it’s a nice starting point to move a little beyond and asking the question: “Why?”.

Let’s take the “one more thing” part. That problem exists only if you don’t have a clear vision. If you are just adding features because those are useful. If this is your approach, then you must at some point draw a line and say “stop”, and that part is hard, mostly because of the community pressure (but the same happens inside a company).

So, why code to production in a web service app works? Because you can just release and see if the users like it or not. But, basically, it’s not a very different approach. Instead of putting features in a code base you are putting it in a production server. The only thing changed is that you have an instant, granular feedback.

That’s good. Very good.

But I think that it’s a great solution to the feedback problem, or in other means that just hides the problem I’m referring to: vision. If I have a clear vision in my mind of what a product should look like, you don’t have to “draw a line” anymore. You just have an idea and you work to create it. And that’s going to be the next release of your software, or your next announcement in a web service world.

Because you had a vision and you made it real.

Don’t think that this means that you need a Steve Jobs that decides everything, all in his hands. It could be a group of peers, or a community-driven process. At the same time, don’t forget that in any group or community natural leaders emerge to drive this process. A good leader is a catalyst, not a ruler.

So you’ll understand that the “1.0” iPhone that Matt is referring to isn’t a “line drawn”, is a step-stone of a vision.

From my point of view, the released product is usually the simplest solution for that vision. Without the correct vision, you don’t have the correct needs, you don’t have the correct objectives, you don’t have the correct context, and you can’t ever design the simplest possible solution, because it doesn’t have any vision to satisfy, just a lot of partial simple designs on smaller pieces.