I use the term “turd” often when talking about products, either hardware or software but I’m not always sure people know what I mean.

A turd is something your company “has to do”. Sometimes they sink and sometimes they float, but they are always mandatory.

A turd can be polished and it can be of any shape or size, but at it’s core, it’s still excrement.

Turds always come from somewhere. Sometimes, usually the ones that float, turds come from good things. The right things. Things like user needs, innovation, obvious holes in the market demanding to be filled.  Many times, however, turds come from bad places, these are usually the ones that sink (and stink). Stinky turds come from fear, they come from reactions to competitors, they come from “obligations”.

Everyone makes turds. The iPod Touch is a floating turd. Apple was obligated to make it. How could they resist? They’ve sold a ton because of the branding and the apps and the advertising, so it’s a shiny turd, but a turd no less.

Most (all?) of the iPad “killers” are turds. They are reactionary. They aren’t innovations, they are year late catchups powered by software that went from being something new to a turd the day the App Store launched.

The Facebook platform was, in it’s inception, pretty awesome. It’s turned in to a turd through, what I can only imagine has been, some epic bikeshedding,  beauracracy and abuse. I bet Zuck would kill it if he could, but instead he’s “obligated” to keep it going.

I don’t even think turds are bad. Turds can be great. They can be just what a company needs. But lets call a spade, a spade, or a turd.