The four-step Hooked Model works very well for a subset of consumer apps, and there are several frameworks and concepts that are useful for newer PMs, but the rest of the book falls flat.
If you’re building a social network, media consumption, or other consumer app that seeks to command a lot of users’ attention, the Hooked Model is a great framework. The “Do This Now” section at the end of each chapter — which gives tactical tips for PMs building these products — are powerful and actionable. And the examples of how products have successfully used this framework, while dated (they’re painfully 2014), do a good job of putting theory into practice.
But it’s important not to overstate the power of the framework. If you’re building an enterprise app, you definitely do not want to use it: people want their payroll software to get the job done with zero gimmicks and take less, not more, of their attention. The model works OK for utility-focused consumer products, but the “variable rewards” part (the core insight of the model) falls flat: nobody wants Uber to give them random prices or Google to show you random results. Even for its core use case (attention-seeking apps), the model has started showing its age — people these days tend to value digital well-being and can notice poorly-disguised growth hacks. Overall, though, the model is powerful if you acknowledge its limitations.
Besides the model, the book is a mixed bag. Several must-know PM concepts — the importance of user testing, the difference between acquisition and retention strategies, and the vitamin-versus-painkiller debate, to name a few — are scattered throughout. But the case study, which shows how a Bible app used the Hooked Model, is strange, since most PMs aren’t going to build anything at all like that app. The final chapter, which explains how to test if you’re implementing the model right, is vague and hand-wavy. And Eyal’s ethical defenses of his teachings fall flat; he fails to seriously consider the ethical questions of building addictive products.
All PMs should read Hooked, if only to understand how attention-grabbing consumer products are built. Acknowledge its flaws and you’ll learn some useful skills, frameworks, and concepts.