I hear this- we have had requests to expose our future plans for a long time. We habitually don’t do this, though. Originally, the argument was that we didn’t want our competitors to know what we were up to. We don’t worry too much about that any more.
Now, the reason is unfortunately more related to US GAAP accounting standards for publicly traded corporations which explicitly prohibit against our promising features to the market before they are completed. Specifically, if we promise we will build a feature that leads to a customer buying because of the promise, we are legally unable to recognize any revenue from the sale until such time as we have delivered the feature. So, essentially, we are legally prohibited from sharing a future roadmap.
Different companies have different interpretations of this regulation, so you may from time to time see public companies sharing future development ideas with their communities in limited forms. Trimble has a particularly conservative approach to the standard, however. Not up to me to question that.
And privately held companies are free to share or hide whatever they like. They operate under different standards and practices.
In the final analysis, though, the reason we hold our plans close to the chest is unrelated to all of these things. While we listen widely to ideas and priorities from our user community, our roadmap is our responsibility. We want to serve as many people as we possibly can, of course— but must be responsible to find the balance between their diverse agendas ourselves.
Thanks for the link- very thoughtful and insightful. And I think more or less what I’m describing above. I might add that typically we have this discussion in our user forums immediately following a product release, where users unsatisfied with the work we did for them wonder, “…if you weren’t doing what I wanted you to do, then what on earth were you spending all your time doing?”