Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Make Great Products (DICE)

Don't you love when you find something so perfectly explained that it actually puts words to your own beliefs in a way that you could not?  In University, one of my prof's used the wonderful expression "born in the same cosmic egg" to describe this type of situation (he taught the History of Led Zeppelin class which may have had something to do with the expression).  In any case, it seems as though Guy Kawasaki and I may have been born in the same cosmic egg.

I've been reading The Macintosh Way lately.  Partly because I wanted to test drive the PDF support in iBooks (better than expected) and also because Kawasaki is currently giving it away for free to his Twitter followers.
As an added bonus, I got to try out Dropbox to transfer the file (and it's also pretty slick). 

Enough lead in.  Here's the excerpt that caught my attention (I've chopped some parts and changed some bits to condense for this post, but the idea remains).
A great product is based on insight and inspiration, and it is an accomplishment - particularly in a world that tolerates and buys mediocrity.  A great product is like pornography - you'll know it when you see it.  There are four characteristics on which to base your judgment: a great product is deep, indulgent, complete, and elegant (DICE).
  1. Deep - The product appeals to both passengers and sailors (as Jean-Louis would say).  ex. techies and non-techies
  2. Indulgent - feeling good (and guilty).  Great products are indulgent.  They make you feel delighted and a little guilty because they are overkill for the tasks at hand.  ex. a fountain pen for signing books, important documents, etc.
  3. Complete - support, enhancements, and infrastructure.  ex. technical support, a stream of enhancements and upgrades, and an infrastructure of power users, consultants and developers that can help a customer achieve maximum satisfaction.
  4. Elegant - ready and waiting.  Great products are elegant.  They have many features, but the features are tastefully and transparently implemented.  ex. MS Word is not elegant, VCR's are not.  The iPhone is elegant.
 To be completely honest, I'm surprised the acronym isn't thrown around more often in marketing circles (especially with our addiction to four-letter acronyms).

How many great products (brands) can you think of that satisfy these requirements?  Starbucks and Apple both clearly do, as well as many designer brands and fashion accessories.  Lululemon might be an obvious example in that category.  Luxury cars like the Infiniti work too but so does the much more affordable pint of Guinness.  I could keep going, but I'll save a few for your comments.


  1. I like the quote "A great product is like pornography - you'll know it when you see it."

    Funny stuff. But yea, products that follow the D.I.C.E. rule are few and far between but when someone puts that much thought into their craft, you know you you've got something special.

  2. Yea, that Guy Kawasaki guy is pretty funny. He definitely seems like a character. =)

    Do you think the world would be a better place with more D.I.C.E. products or would they stand out less because nobody gets excited by the norm. (would more D.I.C.E. just push the criteria for D.I.C.E. even further?)