You have a widely used product. Your customer base is diverse, and includes people at all levels of technological sophistication. You're working on a cool new iteration of the product. In this process, you discover that an existing feature is so badly designed that you cannot redesign the product without eliminating this feature. You have to do the new version, so the old feature has to go.
How do you communicate your decision to customers?
You could write a simple email. Roughly, it has to say:
As you know, we are always working to improve (Product X). We are currently working on a new set of features that will make our product more useful to you.
We expect the new features to be available to you by (Date). In the meantime, we are forced to discontinue (Feature X) due to a previously undiscovered design issue. We are working to bring you an alternative (or list workaround, if it already exists).
We know that (Feature X) is heavily used, and for your convenience have put up an FAQ here: URL. If your questions or concerns are not addressed there, please contact us directly. Thank you for your business, and we look forward to serving you over the coming years."
Simple. Right? Now here is a real-world example. This is an actual email I received this morning. Names and identifiable information elided.
The () team has been pleased to be able to offer the (productname) to thousands of customers over the past three and a half years. As one of our valued subscribers, we want you to be aware of some new developments currently underway within (product name).
(nice paragraph on system improvements)
The first step toward implementing these improvements will include the elimination of the (feature) option. As of July 13, 2008, this will no longer be available.
We regret having to discontinue this feature; however, our research has found that the offering of this option has resulted in technical complications within the (product) system that make this decision unavoidable.
Over the next few months, we will be implementing additional system improvements to the (product) service. These upgrades are expected to increase both the accuracy and speed with which your (alerts) are delivered.
(sorry for the inconvenience, etc)
Another example of poor execution on simple theory. In particular, note that the feature in question is being discontinued 2 days from today.