The Department of Product


Thursday, 07 September, 2023

Airtable AI and a new browser Plus: Meta’s paid sub plans, Airbnb’s trouble in NYC and how to measure engineering productivity

Hi product people 👋,

It was only last year that product teams gleefully waved goodbye to Internet Explorer and while Chrome now accounts for the vast majority of the browser market, a bunch of new entrants have recently joined the space in an attempt to shake things up. The Browser Company’s Arc is arguably the leader of this new browser renaissance but here’s one you might not have heard of. It’s called Horse and the company says it’s designed to be the first stress-free browser that allows users to manage tabs, bookmarks and history in one place by creating a ‘trail’ as they ride through the web. And the unique perspective on browsing doesn’t end there: the company is also charging for access with price plans available on a per century basis. 

Meanwhile, Airtable has unveiled a slew of new features this week. One of which is Airtable AI – the company’s own take on how generative AI can help product teams and other users. Airtable AI gives users the power to integrate AI into field content creation and even allows users to tailor the content based on predefined roles such as product manager or marketing manager. Practical use cases suggested by the company include writing campaign briefs, product spec creation and collecting and analyzing customer feedback.

Speaking of product feedback, one tool we came across that might be worth checking out is Featurebase. Designed to be a single place for collecting and organising all of your product’s feedback, Featurebase also comes with other useful features including upvotes for features, leaderboards and public roadmaps to share upcoming features. You can see a demo of it in action here.

Finally, remember Clubhouse? The much hyped startup was the next big social network for a brief moment in 2021 but imploded shortly afterwards. This week, the company unveiled its vision of the future by reinventing itself as an audio messaging app.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Essential reads for product teams

Latest from the Department of Product Substack

🧠Knowledge Series #6: How to use AI for strategy creation (part 2)

In part one, we explored how to use AI to develop a product vision, business models and monetization strategies. 

In this second part, we’ll continue to explore ways you can use AI prompts and tools to develop your strategy, with a focus on these areas in particular:

  • Differentiation

  • Customer segmentation and

  • Strategy validation

(Department of Product)

UX – What’s the difference between a site map and information architecture?

A sitemap is a visual representation of the organization of your site’s content. A sitemap is a hierarchy of nodes (usually represented as boxes) that signify the pages or content on your website. Arrows or lines demonstrate the relationship between the web pages. (NN Group)

Process – How to measure developer productivity

Measuring outcomes and impact is important, but there must be checks and balances which ensure outcomes are reached the right way. (Pragmatic Engineer)

Tools you can use

  • PDF gear – a free PDF editor that’s actually easy to use

  • Readable podcasts – search and highlight the text of your favorite podcasts

  • Taku – product announcements made easy

  • Super Notes – a new way to to take notes without the hassle

Strategy – YouTube’s guiding principles for AI and the music industry

Advancements in generative AI are no longer a future promise. Millions of people already embrace it in their day-to-day lives, from finding useful information to increasing creativity and productivity. And YouTube creators in particular have embraced AI to streamline and boost their creative processes. (YouTube’s product blog)

Podcast – Stripe’s Shreyas Doshi on why better teams mean better products


New product features, launches and announcements this week

Chrome has released a new feature which makes it easy to capture video frames.

Shopify is rolling out a TikTok integration that will allow users to sync product inventory to sell. The relationship between the two companies is complicated following TikTok’s recent announcement that it is moving away from integrations to focus on building its own ecommerce platform, TikTok Shop.

Meta is reportedly considering adding a paid subscription to its products in the EU.

Zoom has unveiled a new AI companion that it says will “transcend the hype” by delivering tangible value. You can watch it in action here.

Apple has extended its deal with chip maker Arm through to 2040. The announcement means Apple will continue to use Arm-designed chips in its devices until then. Potential investors will no doubt be happy ahead of the company’s upcoming IPO. 

Longplay is a new product focused on music lovers who love listening to entire albums rather than Spotify playlists. The new 2.0 release comes with new smart sorting options including orderliness, brightness of album work, and addiction (the amount of time spent listening).

📈 Product data and trends to stay informed

SalesForce and Shopify are the top 2 performing SaaS companies based on their post-IPO stock price performance. 

Fitness is now the fastest growing spend category for Gen-Z, up 37% year on year according to a new report.  

Airbnb listings in New York City could drop 70% after new laws were enacted.

X’s advertising revenue is reportedly down ~50% according to Elon Musk.

Instacart has filed for its IPO and has confirmed that almost 30% of its revenue is now from advertising. More and more consumer businesses are quickly discovering how lucrative monetizing their audience via ad platforms can be with Uber targeting $1bn in ad revenues in the next year. 

Gig worker designers in South Africa have been hit hard by generative AI. Some workers are reporting a 89% decrease in wages.

Tech leadership updates

Bumble’s CEO Whitney Wolfe says AI will play an important role in dating by helping users improve their flirting skills.

Zoom’s CEO is urging regulators to investigate Microsoft’s bundling of Teams into Office.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has published a 2,400 word memo on the company’s 25th anniversary. Read it here.

By the sea by digital artist mannay. The artwork celebrates the tranquility of summer.
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Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
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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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