What is a product?

A bit of a ridiculous question but I haven’t found it asked here - what is a product? An example of one?

E.g. If you work at Google, is Gmail a product or does that break down into smaller “products” like the Inbox, Smart Compose, Snooze, etc.


A product can be anything that offers both the business and end user value.

For the business the value can be commercial gain i.e. revenue, and for the user it solves a need.

If we try to imagine a generic “product,” basketballs, ice cream cones, shoes, refrigerators—these are the types of products that come to mind. However products can also be digital.

A few examples:

Mortgages and other types of loans

Mobile apps

Food delivery services

Another interesting example would be home security packages. These include several different categories of product in a single solution:

Physical (for example, a Ring doorbell camera)

Digital (the recording and online storage of your Ring camera)

Ongoing service (Ring automatically connecting your service to local police)


It’s definitely not as black and white as it used to be. I think it just depends on the company and scope. To some companies a product is a singular app/web app. On the flip side for some other companies, certain features have become so large that they had to split them into their own teams. For instance, Twitter has their own PM for the home page feed.


Pretty universally I think Gmail will be considered the “product” while inbox, smart compose, etc. will be the “features”

Think of it like when buying a car: the car is the product, while the optional sunroof, media console, lane warning system etc. are features.

However, you need to be a little flexible, and use common sense and consider the context. Because some companies design and produce models of media consoles to put in cars and sell them to automakers. Or maybe an Artificial Intelligence company might sell a lane warning software to automakers.


You can segment products in infinite ways. That is literally called product segmentation. If Google decides to offer a new feature that sorts your mail in a special way and slaps a price tag on it, it’s a product. If Google wants, it will wrap up its entire GMAIL into a product (which they probably do).

A product is what a company decides to define as such, and they segment products as they see fit. There is no magic formula.

A service can be a product too.

If you want to save yourself from all the confusion, go back to the basics that many of nowadays PMs heavily lack. It is much easier to define a product in its infancy phase. At that phase, a product is pretty much an MVP. No bells and whistles. At that stage, the lines between “products” are very clear.

Think of Google Calendar and Gmail at their infancy. Just does the job, with no bells and whistles. It would almost be impossible to not clearly differentiate between the two or mix the two for one product. Two very different pain points, and two very distinctive solutions.

Good luck.


I learned that a product must have a value proposition that someone is willing to pay for Because it’s differentiated from the competitor. otherwise it’s a cool idea.

Example is a mattress. You’re not buying the mattress, you are buying a good night sleep.


Useful definition but not always strictly true, because some products are only used inside a company, so no money is transferred or ‘paid’ (although accounting-wise work and usefulness can be accounted for)

And sometimes a ‘feature’ also can be paid for - for example in a Tesla you can pay extra for the Autopilot feature.


I question if internal facing products are considered products at all. The scale is small and not as complex as external facing or commercialized product. I see products solely used inside the company as resources or as collective goods. I wouldn’t go so far as grouping them with products.

I think the only way to classify a product is through the exchange of money for goods/service rendered between buyers and sellers.

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A product is a collection of features, when taken together, provide the end user with some kind of value

In terms of your example, I think you’re looking for when a feature / group of features becomes so large or complex that a PO or PM is dedicated to overseeing it?