Stowe Boyd pondered the usefulness of Jotlet, a YAWCA (Yet-Another-Web-Calendar-App) that has a lot of promised features missing from its current release:
"The basic calendar, sharing, and event/task reminders are implemented, but the rest is all dangling.
Why do people release products before there are enough features to make the [sic] workable? Who would switch to a web based calendar if there is no sync? How can I get my existing events on there, even if I wanted to? Manually?"
Welcome to the world of the 'Eternal Beta!' All of these great Web 2.0 technologies allow us to release and continually tweak applications in real-time! Way back in the day, these were called 'prototypes,' but that term fell into disuse because it isn't trendy enough to attract enough ad-click eyeballs, VC cash, or a bilion-dollar buyout from Yahoo or Rupert Murdoch.
What this looks like is two guys with a me-too calendar app sprung from a senior-year computer science class project that isn't anywhere near ready for prime-time. Even with the missing features list implemented, the app isn't compelling enough to cause most people to switch or begin using it. A YAWCA, and a largely unfunctional one (currently) at that.
Here's a comment from the Jotlet blog that reminds us of the consequences of eternal beta thinking:
"We don’t have the resources to do full usability tests, so you are our worldwide usability assessment. "
While I'm all for bootstrapping one's way to success, it behooves anybody releasing anything, even a me-too, to give people something substantial to use and test. Users cannot do a 'full ussability test' on apps that have such limited capabilities or features. When it comes down to a decision to implement or release, I recommend choosing the former in cases where the basic app or premise needs to be fleshed-out enough to get enough people on board, using the product, and providing valuable insights. The only one Jotlet's getting from this side of the aisle is that it needs much more work to get the basics down.
Or an auction on eBay.