The Purpose and the Promise: a loose framework for strategic product thinking

The Purpose

  1. Active Enjoyment. Listening to an album of a band you enjoy. Going to a concert.
  2. Passive Filler. Background music in a mall or anything to distract me from the fact that I am running.
  3. Signaling. A personalized accessory. Ringtones. Concert T-shirts. Less for me and more to express taste to others.

The Promise

  1. Anywhere Access. The phone always keeps me connected.
  2. Frictionless Commerce. Click to buy, because we already know who you are and how you’ll be paying.
  3. Instant Gratification. Click and receive value.
  4. Personal Relevance. After all, this device in your pocket knows a lot about you.

The Bridge

  • Streaming albums
  • Ringback tones (remember those?)
  • Early access to buy concert tickets for subscribers
  • Free VIP concert upgrades for subscribers
  • Streaming radio
  • Exclusive artist news
  • Conference call listening parties
  • Text messages from your favorite artists
  • Concert alerts
  • Bluetooth music sharing
  • Ringtones for Text Messages
  • Fan text message “PenPals”

The Filter

  1. Technical constraints. As an MVNO, we did not own our own network. It was 2.5G and 3G was being planned. As such, there were limitations to network-level changes and speeds available to us. Our customers’ devices were also highly customized, which presented both opportunities and constraints on things like music formats and DRM (a big deal at the time).
  2. Economic constraints. This impacted us in a couple ways. As an MVNO, we paid wholesale rates for each bit sent over the wireless network, which made streaming a very expensive proposition compared to our competitors that essentially had fixed network costs.
  3. Billing logic. Virgin Mobile was fully pre-paid, which had to be considered for potential user experiences. What would happen if a user ran out of funds while listening to streaming radio, and then could no longer make or receive calls or texts? It would be difficult to appropriately set user expectations.
  4. User profile. Our customers skewed younger and turned to their phones for empowerment. Which ideas would most deliver for this specific audience?
  5. Brand alignment. Our somewhat irreverent brand drove much of our thinking. If Verizon would do it, Virgin Mobile would not. With a brand so steeped in music heritage, which ideas would help us live up to our legacy?

The Output

The Framework



Product Exec with a Code Habit, Founder

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Michael Scully

Michael Scully

Product Exec with a Code Habit, Founder