The Department of Product


Thursday, 22 June, 2023

Spotify, Revolut and the rise of the Super Sub. Plus: a new inbox for Slack, GitHub’s copilot creator speaks out and why Google can’t be trusted

Hi product people 👋,

After years of delays, one of Spotify’s most anticipated features appears to finally be ready for release. Hi-fi, lossless audio (first promised back in 2021) is reported to be coming soon but there’s a catch: it’s rumoured to be coming only to ‘Super Subscribers’. To coincide with the launch, the company is said to be lining up a brand new subscription tier which will be priced higher than the current $9.99 a month. Only those on the higher tier will get to experience the new lossless audio format.

The news of the higher priced subscription follows similar recent moves by other tech companies including Tinder who are set to launch a $500 a month subscription and DuoLingo who released their super premium subscription, DuoLingo Max, at $15 a month earlier this year. Banking startup Revolut also announced the launch of Revolut Ultra this week, a new premium banking subscription priced at $680 a year.

As revenue generation takes centre stage for many product teams, these new experiments in pricing strategies are an intriguing evolution of subscription pricing orthodoxy. Price elasticity dictates that demand falls as prices rise, but companies clearly think there’s sufficient appetite for new, higher-priced products. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen but it’s a trend worth monitoring.

In other news, analytics startup Equals has launched a new integration with Intercom which plugs live customer engagement data into spreadsheets. Equals, which was founded by a former Intercom employee, says that the new features will allow product and customer services teams to predict churn before it happens, measure the performance of support teams and connect user information with analytics.

Meanwhile, a GitHub employee has taken to Twitter to share his experiences of building the company’s new AI code assistant, Copilot. He told followers that he was paid a $20,000 bonus for creating the new AI product and that the fiercest critic of the idea internally is now leading it. 

Finally, if you struggle with managing all of your browser bookmarks, this new product should come in handy.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


The Department of Product Weekly Briefing

Essential reads for product teams

Product security – How to add two-factor authentication to your product

Usernames and passwords are easy to hack; for better security, use a second authentication factor. Many organizations send one-time passwords (OTP) via text message. It’s a simple way to add security via a mobile phone and SMS, things everyone uses. Add 2FA to your product using Plivo’s APIs and cloud communications platform. (Sponsored)

UX – A guide to designing error messages

Our error-message scoring rubric is a tool to help you analyze and improve your error messages. The rubric lists 12 error-message guidelines and provides detailed guidance on when to assign a particular score. (NN Group)

Opinion pieces – Basecamp’s co-founder on why Google can’t be trusted

Google will eventually kill every single service you care about, if they can’t find a way to directly monetize it with ads at a scale of billions. They’re institutionally incapable of being in the product or service business for the long term.

Tools you can use 

  • Bucket – a new analytics tool for retaining customers

  • ClearFeed – convert multiple Slack channels into a shared inbox

  • Campsite – a new tool for getting design feedback

Skills – How to use LLMs to inspire creative thinking

LLMs can be our perfect thinking companions by promoting our lateral thinking, an approach to creative problem-solving that forgoes the traditional step-by-step methods of reasoning. (UX Design)

The latest from Department of Product

Paid subscribers get access to in-depth analysis, databases, chart packs and a new practical set of explainers, The Knowledge Series.

New this week:

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Google Docs has introduced third party smartchips. This means Google Docs users can now integrate files from third parties including Figma, Atlassian and more. Copying and pasting a link will create a smartchip which embeds a preview of the title of the file.

Video ads are reportedly coming to Uber as the company doubles down on its goal of becoming a $1 billion ad business by 2024. ‘We know where you are, we know where you are going to, we know what you have eaten,” says VP Mark Grether. Sounds ominous. 

Colorful productivity app Clear is back with a sleek new design.

Vimeo is introducing new generative AI tools that will allow users to generate a script using preferences including tone of voice and video length. A teleprompter will appear during recordings and Vimeo will also allow users to edit the transcript afterwards.

Discord is planning to allow creators to make money by selling new digital products. Downloadables can be anything: a recipe book, gaming guide or digital wallpaper. 

📈 Product insights and trends to stay informed

WordPress is the largest CMS in the world by market share with 63%. Shopify is at 5.7% and Wix at 3.7%. 

Gen Z make the most frequent in-app purchases with 55% of respondents of a new survey saying they make in-app purchases at least once a year.

75% of the value that generative AI use cases could deliver falls across four areas: Customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and R&D. Full report by McKinsey into the economic potential of generative AI.

Doordash and UberEats are dominating the food delivery market with 57% and 23% market share respectively. 

Netflix users are the least likely of all streaming customers to supplement their subscription with other streaming services. 42% are only subscribed to Netflix.

The casual gaming market has grown 3.6% year on year and now accounts for 68.6% of total video game sales. Does this mean an opportunity gap has emerged for gamification in product design?

Microsoft’s CFO says AI will add at least $10 billion to their revenue.

🗓️ Upcoming programs

This week marks the final week of our May 2023 Web Technologies Program. A big shout out to all those who have taken part 🙌!

Up next: Mastering Product Strategy – starts July 15th

Mastering Product Strategy is designed to help you get to grips with differentiation, innovation, monetization and business model design. Enrollment is now open and admissions close in 3 weeks time.

Learn more

Industry news in brief

Alibaba’s CEO is to step down. Eddie Wu will replace Daniel Zhang.

Singapore’s ride sharing app Grab is cutting 11% of its workforce.

Deepmind’s cofounder is calling for an updated Turing test which tests AI’s ability to make money instead.

Ringer #879 by Dmitry Cherniak

Ringer #879 by Dmitry Cherniak, also known as ‘The Goose,’ sold for $6.2M
All yours, all free. Enter your email to receive your briefing.

Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
Plus: Slack’s CEO exits, How to use conjoint analysis, a new tool for reading API documentation

Product Briefing – November 2, 2023

Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context

Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers

Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

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