Sometimes you’ll hear a sentence like this:

“That product is stupid. X has been around forever, and you can do the same thing with X if you install plugin Y.”

Most recently I’ve heard this thinking applied to the new Browser, RockMelt. “Oh,” they scoff, “that’s just Google Chrome with a few extensions. Why bother.”

Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not; that’s not the point.

The point is: never underestimate the power of default.

When building a product, the thing you should spend your most time on isn’t making sure that everyone can configure your product to their needs. It’s making sure that you’re creating a default that is perfect for the people you’re reaching out to.

Apple often wins because they make an effort to choose good defaults. Unfortunately this is sometimes at the expense of configurability.

Windows Vista failed cause it had bad defaults. Do you really need all those security warnings?

“Default” is the reason IE6 still plagues us.

So I, for one, have not yet installed a single Google Chrome plugin (oh dear). Rockmelt looks pretty neat. Not sure if I’ll use it permanently yet, but I’ll give it a go for a while and see.

Never underestimate the power of default.