Unintentional Success Story

Every once and a while, Ilium Software tech support gets a heads-up about an interesting and unexpected use of one of our products. We aren’t the only ones; Patrick at MicroISV on a Shoestring had the same experience and his story prompted me to think.

Sometimes the use case isn’t much of a stretch; ListPro is a program to make lists, so it’s hard to find a use for ListPro that isn’t obvious by definition. Prayer lists, scavenger hunts, web bookmarks, flight checklists… they’re all still just lists. NewsBreak is the same way; RSS and ATOM are usually used for simple ‘newspaper headlines’, but all sorts of information such as your NetFlix queue, Gmail account, eBay search results and weather reports are available via RSS. These uses are just part of what NewsBreak is designed to do.

eWallet, on the other hand, is really designed to be a program to hold your sensitive personal information like passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, frequent flier mile cards. That’s it; you put personal information in, eWallet encrypts it under one password. That doesn’t stop people from coming up with their own uses.

Just yesterday, we had a user mention that she used eWallet to keep track of things she wanted to buy on the web. She would create cards with the backgrounds set to a picture of a particular item, with the weblink to the item and a description in the notes. That way, she could see at a glance exactly what something was, instead of having to go visit the website to figure out why it was in the list.

This is not something eWallet was intended to do, but it works and made the user happy. The ‘pictures of stuff to buy’ list works because eWallet supports both card background graphics and Picture Cards (useful for pictures of your dog / cat / gerbil with fruitless dreams of freedom / kid / favorite flower pot / car / boat / that really big fish you caught that was thiiiiiiiis big, really! / etc.) You know, stuff you would keep in a real wallet.

It also brings up the great can-of-worms question, “Should we pursue this with eWallet?” I definitely don’t have the answer. Questions like these are great, because they open up all those weird little opportunities you – the developer, or tester, or anyone else in software development – wouldn’t necessarily think of on your own.

3 thoughts on “Unintentional Success Story

  1. Kay

    I think you should keep basic support for such features in, but not really add anything more. I like eWallet because it’s not as bloated as other apps I’ve tried, keep it that way!

  2. Eric Olsson

    What about introducing a third product that brings in the features that you mentioned from both of your other products? This would be a program that allows you to keep lists of cards. It would have the listing capabilities of ListPro and the card metaphor from eWallet, but it would lack the more security-focused features (in order to keep a differentiation between the 2 products). It can be a ListPro for more visual people.

    Just my 2-cents’ worth…

  3. Dave Beauvais

    Or add some basic image support to a future version of ListPro. (PNG, GIF, JPEG, and bitmap.) Though that could make the list files rather large, which would have an impact on some mobile devices. But in terms of features, it seems more logical to add image support to ListPro than to make another, similar program. The feature overlap would just be confusing to users. Wow, I don’t know if that helped or not. 🙂

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