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What’s the difference between a product and a solution?

Writing for Business

Which is correct?

Our anti-virus ____ is available as a separate download.

a. product
b. solution


Answer: a.

Explanation:

If this is a separate application, it’s a product. There’s really no justification for referring to a single software product as a solution. (Even if it’s a combination of software products — we just call that a product suite, kids.)

We’ve been hating the word solution ever since it started appearing in marketing material. Is there any excuse for calling something a solution? I don’t think there’s any justification if it’s a single product or service, even if it does claim to solve a problem — don’t most products and services? However, if it’s a combination of products and services designed to solve a specific problem, go ahead. We might not like it but we’ve had to learn to live with it.

We even defined solution, just to try to come to terms with its right to exist. What it came down to was the fact that you’ve got to have a word for a combination of software and services designed to deal with a particular problem. Sounds like a solution me.

See more discussion of product vs. solution in this LinkedIn Q&A.

 Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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