Once a week I sit down with my notebook and jot down 10-20 ideas. The ideas can be anything from business ideas to ideas on being more efficient throughout the day, whatever comes to mind when I start basically.
One of the brief ideas I had a few weeks ago was a group email service. A service for club sport groups, groups of friends, planning a trip, SXSW RSVP lists, etc. Basically an easy way to keep everyone up to date around some common thread.
That's a pretty cool, basic idea. You could add in things like muting the conversation if you're at work, better parsing of links and inline attachments. You could have a web panel to catch up on what you missed if you joined later on in the conversation. On the web panel you could have bios of everyone in the group, you could unsubscribe. OMG, so many awesome things. This idea is great!
But then you start to doubt your idea and the other implementations that exist that are similar.
What about reply all? Or why not just use a newsletter list? Wait, this idea is stupid. Reply all does exactly that. Everyone knows how to use reply all, that's why chain letters exist.
I've always been a pretty strong believer in the execution and not the idea. I usually laugh at people when they ask me to sign an NDA before talking with them about their idea. Usually because it's already been solved in some way or another, it's about how you position it and who you market it to.
I've never been able to point to an exact example of this until 37Signals released their new product Breeze. I love everything that 37Signals does, they're a great company with really talented people. They took this simple group email idea and marketed it so beautifully to the common Joe that I completely forgot about that little reply all button.
They explain a simple flow of how the service works and then explain why your group needs a breeze address. After that they highlight some of the possible groups that could benefit from one of these - families, staff, alumni, committees. They have 4 purchase links throughout the main page to purchase a Breeze email address so they're constantly trying to get you to take action as you read through. It's a great, simple one page execution of this simple idea.
There's a compare link at the top to compare using Google Groups and Yahoo! Groups which is also really well done. Highlighting how manually adding everyone in the to: and cc: field gets to be a bit ugly and how you could miss someone. Google and Yahoo! Groups take 10+ steps with tons of settings along the way highlighting how much of a pain it is to use their service too.
After reading over this main landing page the reply all button seems like the ugliest way to send a group email ever. Why would I ever want to click that button when I can just have a sexy, simple email address?
This is a perfect example of how the execution really matters. Everyone has ideas but you should be concerned with how you're going to execute it.