The Atomic Unit of a Product/Service

Fred Wilson had an interesting post about a month ago on the atomic unit of a product or service:

This isn’t exactly about a feature. Features are the verbs of a web/mobile product. Objects are the nouns. And one thing I always like to think about is what is the most fundamental object of all in your service. I like to call this the “atomic unit.”

He goes onto list a number of examples from the Union Square Ventures portfolio and then reveals the punchline:

When you think about an MVP, it’s really important to identify the atomic unit and make sure you focus the product crisply and cleanly on that object. If you think you have three or four atomic units, you are going to end up with a clunky and bloated experience and that is what you want to avoid at all costs with your MVP (particularly if you are mobile first).

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea over the last month. It is imperative to be focused very specifically, not just at launch but throughout the life of the company. I believe very strongly in the theory that customers hire a product to do something for them. By being very clear about the atomic unit of the product/service, it also should clarify to customers how this product fits into their lives.