Competition Stirs the Pot
In the Garden of Eden, infinite time stretched before Adam and Eve, at least until Eve ate that fateful apple. Ever since, we have had to achieve reliable products in a short time, at a limited cost in effort. We are currently calling this milieu “the market-based economy.” In other words, to narrow it down to software development, it takes a schedule (months) and an amount of effort (person-months) to develop software at some level of reliability (defect rate).
Since the time of Adam and Eve, entrepreneurs have been caught in this economic vise. They have to get to market in time to meet customers’ needs. They have to hold effort (which translates roughly to cost and price) to a level that customers can afford. They have to reduce defects to a market-set minimum. It’s a great game. The winners enjoy it. The losers clamor for protection.
In the last years of the second millennium, the Internet upped the ante. Its cheering section invented Internet time. Everything was to go faster in Internet time, including software development.
Accordingly, a set of shibboleths attained the status of commandments, as if written on slabs of stone and handed down from the highest mountain in the land:
- Get the initial product out fast.
- Get dominant market share.
- Fix the product later.
- Better yet, sell periodic updates.
- Become fabulously wealthy.
A few users of this “get it out fast” software have been heard—at least by attentive listeners—to grumble, “It crashes twice a week.” But the users soldier on, for the PC is still far, far better than the portable typewriter of sainted memory.