According to Reuters, Microsoft is readying an “iPod killer” that will be “roughly three times as thick as an iPod and roughly twice as long.”

I can tell you right now that this new product from Microsoft will not be an “ipod killer.” Why? Because customers react strongly to products (and companies) that have a focus. Focus usually makes products better, easier to use, and directly targets users’ specific needs.

Case in point is the Palm Pilot and the Apple iPod. Both products entered their markets not as market pioneers, but market disruptors. The Palm Pilot was small, focused on the tasks users most wanted to accomplish with a PDA, and was easy to use. This extreme focus lead to huge success. While competitors tried to combat the Palm Pilot with more features and more functionality, Palm Pilot soared in market share because it provided an elegant solution to a simple problem.

The iPod has done the same thing. The iPod is not the cheapest most feature laden MP3 player out there, but it accomplishes the simple task of playing and storing MP3s on a portable device in the most easy-to-use and elegant fashion.

It is this focus on doing one thing and doing it extremely well that lead both Palm and Apple to huge successes in their markets. And while it is tempting to always include more and more features in your product or service, in the long term you will be the winner in your market if you focus on your product’s primary functionality and your customer’s primary needs.

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Noah Parsons
Noah Parsons

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of Outpost and the online business plan app LivePlan, and content curator and creator of the Emergent Newsletter. You can follow Noah on Google+ or on Twitter.