Small Firm Success blog discussed the new Black’s Law Dictionary (8th Edition) that Thomson/West is selling for $49.99. At first, I thought this was a really great idea, and even though most iPhone apps are in the 99¢ to $1.99 price range, the $49.99 price didn’t phase me.

Then someone reminded me of something:

“Most lawyers have a BlackBerry, not an iPhone!”

According to this February Legal Techonology survey article, 95% of respondents said they issued their attorneys BlackBerries. If you watch the video below, you’ll see the excitement in the eyes of Dan Bennett and Jay Peyer about the product they’ve created. But, they clearly miss where their market is. They did make something cool, but if their customers aren’t on iPhones, then their customers can’t use it!!

I even got caught up in the whole “cool factor” of having Black’s on my mobile device, that I dared (even double-dog dared) Thomson/West into making a $9.99 version for the Amazon Kindle. By the way, that dare is still on!!

This is the sort of thing that happens when you let your “Techies” create something that they think is cool and cutting edge, while you’re business and sales people sit on the sidelines. What you end up with is a product that is cool and cutting edge, but on a platform that most of your clients can’t use!
My hope is that Thomson/West can take the effort that they’ve put into creating this create app, and push it over to the BlackBerry App World. And, I’ll pass along some words of wisdom that I learned many years ago when working between a brilliant technology staff, and a public that used our service — When you create a new product, you should constantly ask yourself this question: “Will my customer be able to use this?” — If at any point you question if the answer is a firm “yes”, you need to rethink what you are attempting to do. The coolest product in the world is useless if it cannot be used by your customers.