China adopts the Marxist idea of a principal contradiction that needs to be resolved for society to move forward, or else it will lead to chaos and revolution. Through the years this contradiction has evolved from “the people versus imperialism” to “unbalanced and inadequate development versus the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life”. 

This principal contradiction can also be used to evaluate product development goals that are at odds with each other. Building one product feature actively hurts another feature. 

For Google, the principal contradiction is finding another cash cow versus protecting the one they already have. A decade ago it used to be monetizing search versus hurting usage, but that seems resolved now.

For Apple, it’s creating something that attracts fanatics versus serving a billion users, not all of whom can be a fanatic. For Twitter, it’s saving what’s good versus making something better.

Resolving this contradiction is critical to allow the company to move on.