Version numbers are everywhere… every piece of software, many websites, photo camera firmware, well pretty much on anything that is software. Yet, in marketing we do not seem to get it right when communicating the meaning of version numbers to consumers.
For consumers this is rather annoying because in the end everybody can relate to numbers. 8 is perceived better than 7 and 7 is perceived better than 6. Even with sub numbers: version 5.2 is perceived better than version 5.1.
So, you might think: what is the problem? The problem comes in when we start adding the third sequence number: what is the difference for consumers between version 2.0 and 2.0.1?
I propose something very simple:
- Version 2.0: the second version of a product, truly different/better from version 1.0
- Version 2.1: the first iteration of version 2.0: new features are added, but it is not a complete overhaul. If it were a complete overhaul the version would be version 3.0.
- Version 2.1.1: a bug fix release of version 2.1, there a no new features, it is just a better version of 2.1. If it would have new features it would be version 2.2.
So, let’s take a look how this works in practice with a couple of examples:
iOS software updates
These work great with the above principle: the last big upgrade was iOS 5, followed by release 5.0.1 which was a bug fixing release. This was followed by release 5.1, a feature release. All easy to understand!
Another division inside Apple follows a different approach with Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro
The latest release of Apple’s professional video editing software (version 10) has not started of that well. Many of the Pro features like multi cam editing were missing in the first release. It did cost Apple lots of customers, who moved to Adobe products. Now months later Apple has made updates to its software. The latest release adds pretty much all the missing features from the first version. Yet… Apple calls this significant update version 10.0.3… For consumers just looking at the numbers: version 10 (10.), no significant updates (.0), some fixes (.3). In my view, marketing the product as version 10.3 would have clearly indicated the massive improvements to the product!
Rather like this…
What do you say? Can we simplify versioning in communications?