I’m frustrated at the gap between Apple and Google. It’s definitely not a hardware gap (pretty close now). It’s not about client-side software (iTunes and its store is pretty dominant, but Google’s cloud approach works well too). It’s not a competition between the number of apps in their app stores either! Instead, it is Google, not stitching its product portfolio together!
A program management approach and crisp but broad user personas would be key to helping Google keep plugging things together. User personas and stories help stitch together functionality that would otherwise be disparate from a functional, and subsequently technical, sense. It’s especially important for companies that dabble in hardware and software; how else do you do good integration and products that rely on both? By using these tools constantly, you’ll consequently develop scalable feature infrastructure; who doesn’t want that!
So here’s the thing: I hope Google is using something like this: “Joe User” who has a set of user stories about ‘Work’ versus ‘Play’. One set of stories about “Joe User” who ‘Works’ would be to introduce collaboration-oriented APIs and bringing social-media apps like Google Docs (and maybe Picasa?) more into the Android ecosystem. Wouldn’t it be neat to automatically configure your phone or tablet to upload a copy of your photos taken from the camera to Facebook, a Google Doc, or a service like Dropbox in the background whenever the device’s Wifi is turned on?
Conclusion: You get better products by thinking about how they stitch together, not just making that one awesome feature. And you do that through good user personas! And thanks Google!