Metrics vs Mass appeal? What companies probably don’t yet understand.

I wanted to ask a question today instead of blogging about a topic. To be honest I don’t know the answer to this question and that is why it is the topic for today. So the question is

When is the colour blue, blue?

Is it when the wavelength of light is between 450–495 nm?

Or is it when all the people in the world associate the word blue with a particular shade of light. If so what happens when the whole world suddenly decides to call it green?

Now, some of you might think this is a silly question so let me put it another way. When is a project considered a success? Is it when it achieves all its defined metrics or is it when it gains mass acceptance? I can already hear people shouting out that mass acceptability is one of the most important metric and should be considered as a measurable result. But real world scenarios have consistently shown that you can do everything right and still not gain mass acceptance or vice versa; also you can’t test for mass acceptability in your lab before you launch.

So my real question is which should be given more importance. Metrics or Popularity?

A simple example of this would be the surface tablet or Windows Mobile OS both of which were available at least 5 years before any competitors arrived. Both products were meeting the required acceptance criteria defined at the time but neither had a willing market. Similarly, the mobile phone market was not revolutionized when the iPhone was launched; it was revolutionized when the Android OS and Smartphone like HTC Touch came about.

You can have two products like the Samsung Core2 Duos and the Nokia Lumia 630 both of which are very similar in hardware specs but the Nokia phone has mass appeal that the Samsung phone does not. This question has resonance in a number of other fields as well, such as how to promote an employee; do you make the efficient unpopular techie who gets the job done or promote the popular laid back MBA who takes frequent vacations? Considering he is going to be a peoples’ manager, popularity should matter I guess.

Another example is the capital of Kerala is Thiruvananthapuram but almost everybody calls it Trivandrum. The former is technically correct but the latter is more accepted.

Frankly, tomorrow if everyone started calling light of the wavelength 450 – 495nm Yellack I am not sure what I would do but are you?