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Silicon Valley Values Shift To Customersploitation

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-being-treated-like-cattle-is-fun dept.

Businesses 244

theodp writes "Bill Davidow is the real Silicon Valley deal. Commenting on how Silicon Valley has changed over the decades, Davidow is not impressed, dishing out harsh words for Facebook, Apple, Google, and others. 'When corporate leaders pursue wealth in the winner-take-all Internet environment,' concludes Davidow, 'companies dance on the edge of acceptable behavior. If they don't take it to the limit, a competitor will. That competitor will become the dominant supplier — one monopoly will replace another. And when you engage in these activities you get a different set of Valley values: the values of customer exploitation.'"

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244 comments

"Customersploitation" (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467455)

come on - give me a break.

Duh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467495)

The incentive to create a business is to make money. Once your market saturation crosses a tipping point, the only way to further increase profits is to exploit, rather than serve your market. So you engage in monopolization, rent-seeking, and so on.

This is how business has always worked. This is an entirely predictable outcome of basic human nature. It should not be surprising at all. Nor, for the most part, should it be upsetting. We should simply expect that once the businesses get huge like this, we will have to either break them up or heap some government regulation on them in order to protect ourselves from them. We will *always* have to do this, so, let's get busy.

Re:Duh (1, Informative)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467645)

Once your market saturation crosses a tipping point, the only way to further increase profits is to ADAPT

FTFY

Re:Duh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467999)

Adapt to what? The fact that you basically own the market? That doesn't make sense.

You want to extract more profit from a market that almost entirely buys from you already. Spending company resources on busting into brand-new markets is high risk with an unclear potential payoff. Adjusting your offerings such that people must pay more for the same service, or adjusting the law such that it is even more expensive (or illegal) to use alternatives, is far less risky with clearer gains.

The choice is obvious.

Re:Duh (2)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468033)

Adapt to what?

"Me and mine first, and fuck everyone else", that's what. Basic animal survival instincts, sans-humanity.

Re:Duh (0, Troll)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468123)

Adapt to what?

"Me and mine first, and fuck everyone else", that's what. Basic animal survival instincts, sans-humanity.

Nah, that's just basic libertarian philosophy.

Re:Duh (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468363)

Libertarians are just going with the flow, then.

When you put a lot of each-should-help-others (socialist) policies in place, several important things happen:

1) Those who get free stuff from the policies immediately become less productive. Since their reward is not a product of their contribution, they lose their primary incentive to contribute, and stop contributing. Sure some noble souls continue to go above-and-beyond, but they are the exception and not the rule, and the increasing number of non-contributory members makes the system increasingly unsustainable.

2) Those who are having their productivity taxed to support the policies start losing their incentives to be productive too. They experience a lower reward for their efforts, since a percentage of it will be sucked away and delivered to the unproductive members of group 1. This breeds animosity and rebellion; people start looking for ways to skirt their contribution requirements or otherwise exploit the system for their personal gain. This also weakens the sustainability of the system.

3) As the sustainability limits of the system are reached, the response is to do it even more; even more taxation to fund even more social problems, creating a downward spiral.

4) Those who organize and execute the systems (the politicians) wind up with way too much power, and invariably start exploiting it for personal gain. They divert funds from the intended recipients to their porkbarrel projects, make arrangements that are extremely profitable for specific businesses and then become members of the board of directors once their government term of service is up, etc.

All of these consequences stem from the same basic truth: most humans act in their own best interest. Whether that is noble or not, whether it is right nor not, doesn't matter. It is what humans do, and this aspect of human nature cannot be changed. Not by law, not by policy, not by encouragement, not by religion, not by anything. Humans will always revert to essential selfishness, and any system which is built on essential selflessness will therefore fail.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468451)

Except it's not.

But nice karma whoring - any post bashing libertarians, no matter how stupid, misguided, and just plain ignorant of the actual philosophical underpinnings of libertarianism, will get you a +4 or +5 Insightful!

Re:Duh (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468463)

>>>>>"Me and mine first, and fuck everyone else", that's what. Basic animal survival instincts, sans-humanity.
>>
>>just basic libertarian philosophy.

Nice slam. But libertarians believe in protecting human life and basic human rights (right to speech, expression, ownership, plus a shield against government bureaucrats overruling our freedom of choice). We also believe corporations shouldn't even exist, as they are an artificial creation & protectorate of the government.

In the libertarian world all companies would be directly-owned proprietorships or partnerships with the manager(s) directly responsible if one of their products blow-up, catch fire, or otherwise harm a customer. No immunity or limited liability or golden parachutes.

Re:Duh (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468649)

So basically, it'd be a disaster with a non-functional economy where no one would dare take risks?

Re:Duh (1)

Braino420 (896819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467967)

We should simply expect that once the businesses get huge like this, we will have to either break them up or heap some government regulation on them in order to protect ourselves from them. We will *always* have to do this, so, let's get busy.

Government regulation creates monopolies due to regulatory capture. A natural monopoly is limited in its ability to raise prices due to potential and indirect competition. Government monopolies on the other hand...

More info can be found in The Machinery of Freedom chapter Monopoly I: How to lose your shirt.

Re:Duh (2)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468199)

A natural monopoly is limited in its ability to raise prices due to potential and indirect competition. Government monopolies on the other hand...

Only if a small startup can eat your lunch. Good luck competing with Google without a billion dollars worth of hardware and at least 2 years of web crawling to fill your search database.

Re:Duh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468435)

Refresh my memory, how did Google start? Did they immediately have a billion dollars in hardware and years of web crawl data?

No they started small (at least compared to the existing players), crawled the web for a while and began developing their own search algorithm.

A startup that does the same thing with a better algorithm will fine people who will use it and they can grow the way Google did if they're better.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468513)

So you're saying we should stifle Google with oppressive regulations to give the little guys like Bing a chance?

Or are you saying that the only possible way to make money in online search is to sell ads to display alongside search results, and any other solution is doomed to failure?

Or are you saying that Google is the one company in the history of the world that is, absent government intervention, incapable of being challenged by a competitor, because they're just magically immune?

Re:Duh (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468529)

>>>Only if a small startup can eat your [monopoly]

You mean like Google?
In the 90s they were the "small startup" you describe, and they faced-off against the mighty monopoly that is Microsoft. The monopoly that had killed-off Atari, Commodore, DR-DOS, OS/2, Netscape. (Let's also include Apple which was not a startup but was definitely small.)

Now both Google and Apple are whipping MS's butt in the operating system/browser market (Android, iOS, webkit). No monopoly lasts forever not even Microsoft which used to have 90% share, but has now dropped to around 50% overall.

Re:Duh (2)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468447)

I think you have it backwards. Monopolies survive in spite of government regulation due to regulatory capture. All profit seeking companies want to become a monopoly because that is the state of highest profitability. Many companies will use whatever means to further their pursuit of monopoly status. This includes using the government to create barriers to entry for competitors or force competitors from the market. If you removed government regulations, it would not change that all companies are trying to increase market share and drive out competitors. Instead, you would get increased predatory actions, many of which are well documented during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries in America.

Re:Duh (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468089)

That's modded flamebait? Really? I wonder who might do such a thing.

Re:"Customersploitation" (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467721)

come on - give me a break.

After the r and before the s?

Re:"Customersploitation" (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467923)

Sufferin' succotash, my brain will *only* imagine the word "Customerspliotation" as being spoken by Daffy Duck in a spray of saliva.

Re:"Customersploitation" (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468477)

You're confusing Daffy with Sylvester.

Re:"Customersploitation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468175)

That's not as bad as Blaxsploitation, now is it? I refer to the nomenclature, not the implication or the 70s movies.

Re:"Customersploitation" (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468313)

come on - give me a break.

Really. They've been working toward this goal for years. There was some doubt whether they'd achieve it after the dotcom bubble burst in 2000. It's called "Making A Profit" which only a few have flirted at for years.

The way of nature. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467461)

How does this differ from any other industry/field? The strong destroy the weak. The strong hold onto power.

Re:The way of nature. (3)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468049)

In a better world, we're more than just slightly smarter animals. More and more that's all people seem to be, is animals.

Re:The way of nature. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468495)

When was this better world?

Customerspliotation? (4, Informative)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467467)

Customerspliotation? Are you fucking kidding me? Blogosphere was bad enough. Internet, stop making up stupid words.

Re:Customerspliotation? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467563)

would you prefer cyberslavery?

Re:Customerspliotation? (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467575)

Oh, it wasn't the Internet (particularly). The portmanteau bastardized blechery in the summary and title here aren't in TFA at all.

It was just world-famous Slashdot editorial practice at work. They can't rein in dupes, create an unbiased and non-sensationalist headline, or fix actual errors in copy from submitter (or themselves)... but the sure as hell can coin pointless and cringe-inducing neologisms.

Slashdot editing at its shining best.

Re:Customerspliotation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467611)

How do you propose that this be best handled in a post-Columbine world?

Re:Customerspliotation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467769)

1999 called. But not because it wants its criticism of Jon Katz back. It just called to say hi.

Re:Customerspliotation? (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468459)

Did you tell them about 9/11?

Re:Customerspliotation? (4, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468511)

portmanteau bastardized

Is that something one would do with hot grits?

Re:Customerspliotation? (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468625)

I thought we are in a post-9/11 world. Shit. Now I have to go and rethink my positions on everything.

Re:Customerspliotation? (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467979)

Or a neoportmanteaulogism.

Re:Customerspliotation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468643)

I'm not sure which is more disturbing - the word you just coined, or the fact that you came up with it.

Re:Customerspliotation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468577)

It's just more slashditzation.

Re:Customerspliotation? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467745)

Customerspliotation? Are you fucking kidding me? Blogosphere was bad enough.

You'd hate my stratodoober [slashdot.org] then!

I have to agree about Customerspliotation and Blogosphere. The guy who coined "blogosphere" got what he deserved, last I heard he was homeless. Lets hope whatever dimwit coined customerspliotation comes to his senses, but I doubt it.

Re:Customerspliotation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467965)

Customerspliotation? Are you fucking kidding me?

I know! It's like they think that the people who create accounts on facebook and gmail are the customers and not the product!

ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customers (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467483)

PC's caught on was because IBM and other "enterprise" suppliers charged ridiculous amounts for their hardware and locked in customers with support contracts and being the only source for spare parts and upgrades

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467539)

Those were customers, receivers of a at least sorta customized product or service. Also, in general, corporations not lowly humans. Consumers are a much more lowly social class. Like the difference between a diner eating while seated at a gourmet restaurant, vs the maggots in the dumpster eating the leftovers the diners didn't want. Its a social class thing.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467691)

nobody is forcing you to use facebook, google, twitter or any free internet service. i use them because i get value out of them.

oh noes, facebook knows i liked the page of some women's perfume my wife likes. its so evil the perfume maker may even send me a custom coupon before my wife's birthday because they will have her info as well.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467781)

Nobody forces anyone to go to work, stop at red lights, wear clothes outside, or the like either. However, consequences do happen.

Until I got my current job, every previous would-be employer asked what my FB ID was. When I told them I didn't have one, I was told directly that the interview was over, and that someone without FB was a fossil too ignorant/old/stupid to be working there.

If I want to listen to Spotify or other services, guess what? They use FB for their access.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (2)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467913)

my father in law is a millionaire and he never uses facebook. in fact he rarely uses the cheapo laptop i bought him. i know other successful people who don't use facebook. some have accounts but never use it, others don't even have an account.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468117)

Corporate culture has brainwashed people into believing that you can't have a happy, healthy, productive life without being "connected" to everyone else 100% of the time through online services and smartphone. The irony is that people are even less connected to each other than they've ever been, since everything online is just an illusion of that. Words on a page and pictures on a screen can't ever take the place of actual face-to-face interaction with other human beings. The sooner people come back around to that very basic fact, the better off everyone will be.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468275)

my father in law is a millionaire and he never uses facebook.

I am NOT a millionaire, and never use Facebook.

Your point was?

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (3, Informative)

jrroche (1937546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467975)

Nobody forces anyone to go to work, stop at red lights, wear clothes outside, or the like either.

Actually the police do (other than the going to work part).

If I want to listen to Spotify or other services, guess what? They use FB for their access.

Actually they don't. I have Spotify fully disconnected from Facebook.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468269)

Actually they don't. I have Spotify fully disconnected from Facebook.

Log in to Facebook to create your Spotify account.

See? [spotify.com]

There is no other option. So, actually, they do.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468047)

Please list the companies that told you that. I'd really like to know.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (2)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467569)

I'm not sure that's a good comparison. What you describe is simple competition...supply a cheaper product that gets the job done and get that business. What he's describing is quite different. Actually the use of the term "customer" in this whole context seems a little grey to me. These companies real "customers" are the ones paying for add revenue, not those being exploited.

A very good point. (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468641)

I have never purchased anything from Google. I use their email and search engine and let them crawl its content so I can be pitched with some fairly unobtrusive ads. I guess I am a viewer or a user. Maybe even a mark. I am a Microsoft customer. They do push stuff at me and I push back. But then so do car salesmen, and the guy haunting the men's department at Macy's. It is, and always has been, a caveat-emptor kind of world. Basically, most people seem up to it and rarely get fleeced with everyday purchases. With tech, however, it is simply a lot easier to trick people into buying stuff they do not need, because, frankly, most people have very little idea of what they are buying. Tech is shyster heaven. One laments, perhaps, the fading of the academic ethic (or at least the pretense of it) that characterized the early years of commercial tech. But to my eye it is just business doing business as usual. Never very nice.

The FOSS movement, for all its flaws, is a ray of sunshine in the 'dark' world of commerce. It really is a pleasant surprise. Like Jazz, maybe. Creative energy from the bottom up. If not always polished or complete, then beautiful nonetheless... But face it... capitalism works. It generates wealth far better than more nobly conceived economic experiments. But it will always spin out of control if left only to itself. Price fixing? Monopolies? Fraud? Markets do not self-correct these built in problems. However, the implementation of thoughtful measured regulations and laws can really put government squarely into the same role with finance and industry that coaches and referees play in sports. Without them... chaos. But too much from them and they spoil the game. In the end it is all about optimizing "the public good." whatever that is at a given moment

The scary thing is corruption. And for that there seems to be no answer. And over the last decade there seems to be more and more of it. On every side of the aisle. And at every level of power. Yikes!

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (2)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467629)

No, PCs caught on, because their computing power and extensability was enough to fulfill a special need centralized systems weren't fit for: Doing your own spreadsheet at your desk, writing something to be edited heavily later, playing some games, combine arbitrary software adapted to your ideas how to work or recreate. The whole notion of "personal computing" was diametral to the centralized IT shop with the big irons serving multiple terminals. PCs weren't eating into IBM's or DEC's revenues. Only when the PC technology was mature enough to make inroad into the server business, the game was changed. But at that time, tens of millions of PCs were already sold.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468039)

Huh?? PCs were around before the IBM PC, although they were called "microcomputers" back then. The IBM PC was a hit because IBM designed and manufactured it, and the mantra was "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM". IBM pretty much wiped out every other microcomputer manufacturer except Apple after that, for almost ten years when Compaq cloned IBM's BIOS and produced a faster, more full-featured, cheaper PC that would run all the programs IBM's PC did.

IBM PCs never locked customers in with support contracts and being the only source for spare parts and upgrades, and in fact there were a whole lot of companies selling memory, hard drives, video cards, etc. for it. These spare parts were always commodities, and as soon as Compaq came along you could put an IBM board into a Compaq and vice-versa with no problem whatever.

You're confusing their PCs with their mainframes, which do lock customers in with support contracts and being the only source for spare parts and upgrades, but so did every other mainframe maker.

In short, you're 100% incorrect, kid. Ask your grandpa first next time.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

NotSanguine (1917456) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468561)

These spare parts were always commodities, and as soon as Compaq came along you could put an IBM board into a Compaq and vice-versa with no problem whatever.

That's not quite true. The original Compaq PCs were *not* plug compatible with the original IBM PCs. Also, IBM moved beyond the ISA bus to MCA bus, which was, most certainly, proprietary. At the same time, Compaq was pushing the EISA bus which was almost as (un)successful (at least in consumer terms -- the Corps bought lots of MCA and EISA hardware) as the MCA bus.

But I guess that was so long ago you've forgotten the bus wars.

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468609)

>>>the mantra was "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM". IBM pretty much wiped out every other microcomputer manufacturer except Apple after that, for almost ten years when Compaq cloned IBM's BIOS.....

You make it sound like the IBM PC was instantly dominant when it was released (1981) but that wasn't the case. It wasn't until six years later that the PC (and clones) became the #1 selling computer. Prior to that point it was the Commodore 64 (1983-86) and the Atari 800 (1981-82) that were the best-selling models.

Source: Ars Technica

Re:ok, like IBM and others didn't exploit customer (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468309)

PCs caught on because clone makers *didn't* charge ridiculous amounts for their hardware and didn't lock in customers with support contracts, etc.

Bad post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467515)

This is a bad post and you should feel bad about this.

Hmm ... sounds familiar. (5, Interesting)

richg74 (650636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467517)

My first reaction to this article was a wry smile" "I think I've heard this story before." I spent 30+ years working in IT on Wall Street, and saw that industry change from relationship-oriented to a almost complete focus on short-term transactions. ("What have you done for me today?") IN both industries, there is a good deal below the surface that isn't visible, easily or at all, to the customer; that the customer often ends up getting screwed shouldn't really surprise anyone.

Re:Hmm ... sounds familiar. (2, Informative)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467825)

a customer supplier relationship means that you buy enough crap and send large commissions to the sales guy for simply filling out some paperwork. it only exists until someone starts selling similar products for a lot less and then your PHB starts asking why are we paying $30,000 for a server or whatever when someone else is selling the same for half the price.

  i've seen the same thing except i've noticed a lot of things get commoditized and some are still higher end where a sales person is needed.

tape libraries for one. IBM, Sun and a few others will sell you a tape library and lock down most of the tape slots to be unlocked by buying special keys. by the time you add up the price of these licenses the total price is beyond ridiculous.

HP will sell you a decent enough tape library with all slots usable. A LOT cheaper. they all use the same connections and LTO-4/5 tapes except with HP you don't need to pay some ridiculous commission. same with servers and a lot of other gear. its simple enough for the buyer to figure out what to buy or for few CDW sales guys to serve a lot of customers remotely instead of your local reseller coming out with 5 people to sell a tape library

Re:Hmm ... sounds familiar. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467929)

Seeing that this book [amazon.com] was written over 50 years ago, it's not clear that Wall Street customers were better off in the "good old days" when their brokers asked about their wife and kids by name.

Not likely (4, Insightful)

geek (5680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467521)

How are the exploited if they are signing up willingly? Trying to negate personal responsibility and play it off on the "evil corporation" is more played out than the buzzwords Davidow uses in his "blog."

I agree companies take things a bit too far at times but like a wise man once said "It's a crime to let a sucker hang on to his money." I feel no worse for people being "exploited" by these companies than I do the banks that gambled on them.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467591)

How are the exploited if they are signing up willingly?

Because they were lied to before they signed up willingly, i.e. if they were really informed of what was going to happen to them, then they would have never signed up. Not only does your lack of ethics show, but you are also advocating something that is illegal to begin with. It's called "misrepresentation".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misrepresentation

Re:Not likely (1)

Bigby (659157) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467853)

Where does Google do this?

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467953)

Where does Google do this?

Like any web company, they are using a form browse-wrap licensing. The only difference here is, the license is not sealed in a box that prevents you from reading it. Rather, the license is not implicitly displayed at the time of the agreement. It is, at best, nebulous, and at worse, not enforcable.

http://www.chillingeffects.org/reverse/faq.cgi#QID207

Re:Not likely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467717)

I see his point, and it is really hard to mount a defence.

I think not locking in your data is one way to help keep companies from doing this.
However when you depend on their services, you're still locked in.

So as much as Google lets you keep your data, and Facebook doesn't. (Try to get a fully copy of your messages from both). If you build a NEED for their services you're screwed.

But this is a behavioural issue, don't single source critical services.

Re:Not likely (1)

spagthorpe (111133) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467795)

You can be too stupid to know you're being exploited.

Re:Not likely (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468061)

It has little to do with stupidity. The problem is that you do not -- CANNOT -- know what you are "paying" in this voluntary transaction because it's all trade secrets. Thus we are being constantly manipulated in ways we're not aware of.

Anyways, the idea that any exchange is OK if it is voluntary, is bunk. Somebody choosing to do something only establishes one thing - that it was the best option available to them at the time. The much larger question is whether they had any good options in the first place.

Re:Not likely (5, Insightful)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467809)

"How are the exploited if they are signing up willingly?"

I agree. But, I would add this.

We have been busy educating the perfect consumer. One who always sees a want as being a need. One who can't perceive true value. One who cannot weigh risk vs. benefit. One who asks no questions and just forks over the money. Preferably in some recurring revenue fashion.

We are educating perfect voters too. No analytical skills. Just cheerleaders willing to forward stupid emails and keep up with today's talking points at most. Then pull the straight ticket lever come election day. It is really sad.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467901)

Great post +1 Insightful

Oh for mod points right now

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468217)

Amen man. AMEN

Re:Not likely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468031)

but like a wise man once said "It's a crime to let a sucker hang on to his money."

No, it's called minding your own business. The "the victim got what he deserved" mentality is one of the worst things our civilization has produced. Society is supposed to protect those who might be less capable.

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468077)

If you are trying to pick up girls, and they all ask if you have Facebook, and when you say no and ask for the phone number, just never ever give it to you... how long will you stand it, go home, and fap to porn... again? Hm?

How blind or forever alone are you, that you haven't realized that there isn't really any choice.

Willingly... as in: You have the choice sign up, or be forever alone.

Re:Not likely (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468179)

Because they have been brainwashed into believing that their lives aren't "complete" without those things!

Re:Not likely (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468365)

I agree companies take things a bit too far at times but like a wise man once said "It's a crime to let a sucker hang on to his money." I feel no worse for people being "exploited" by these companies than I do the banks that gambled on them.

A wise man? No, that's only the wisdom of a theif. I'll bet you were rooting for Madoff when he was on trial.

You know who says "It's a crime to let a sucker hang on to his money"? Con artists. I only hope that you'll be suckered by one, you'll change your tune when you are. Theivery is theivery whether or not the theivery is legal.

Not Sustainable (2)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467607)

This is why we have internet bubbles. If you try and cheat your way to the top, the people will simply shift away from you. If value is non-existent in a service or product, the people will not buy it (even if it's free). If you keep fooling them, eventually there will be nobody left with money to fool, or the ones you fooled will ignore future false promises. Millions of Facebook users don't realize they are working for Facebook but not being paid, because Facebook earns all it's money based on the information those people provide, freely (including private messages).

When the negative behavior is revealed to everyone, we tend to just pull the plug. For example, I deleted my Facebook account because of their shady attitude towards privacy. For a while it looked like Facebook would continue to dominate social. But social has become very anti-social; ads, over-stimulus, email nagging... etc.

THE PROMISE

I will pull the plug on anything that turns out to be false. Invest in false companies at your peril.

Re:Not Sustainable (2)

drharris (1100127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467695)

They may be working for Facebook, but there is a return on the work. That return is an electronic social connection service that is fairly unique, albeit mostly because of the current momentum. There *is* value provided by all the employees on the back end of Facebook, even if it does cost the users something other than money- their Privacy. But, you are right on about the bubble shifts. The Internet changes quickly. Facebook is always pushing the extent of which their users will cooperate. They do run the constant risk of abandonment when a suitable competitor arises who at least *appears* to have less conflict with their personal values.

Without customersploitation (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467621)

... Silicon Valley either would not exist or would have morphed into a university town or some non-academic research center.

"Free market" in its purest form. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467659)

And that, my friends, is called "the free market".
Because laws, morals, and even basic long-term thinking are just evil reality-imposed restrictions, and have to be stopped...

If one could rape people over the Internet, they’d do it... and take your money for that service.

Meanwhile, the offline experiment of this -- called the NeoCon USA -- is approaching its final result earlier than expected.

Re:"Free market" in its purest form. (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468109)

And articles like this are like the better business bureau. It's important to share information about which corporations are trustworthy and which are sleazeballs.

Define 'exploited' (4, Insightful)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467705)

Some people at slashdot look at Apple and it's walled garden app store and feel like Apple is creating a trapped audience who can only download what Apple feels is OK.

And they are right. But some people who want a simple "it just works" device are willing to accept that model and they don't care about concepts like open source.

I'll extend that to many of IT professionals who have spent years getting the dreaded "my computer is broken" phone calls. They have pointed friends and family in Apple's direction because... it's just works.

Grandma doesn't build her own kernel. She doesn't see a walled garden. She sees a device that works without throwing a ton of alarming messages at her.

Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467707)

Okay, as companies get further away from 'making something', I'd say that the area may grey . . . but is this a bad comparison or what?

Apple (yes, I'll get flamed for saying this) has yet to prove they're exploiting their customers aside from the fringe that think they're crazy.
Google has an unprecedented (legally, in private hands) amount of people's info, but again, as long as search results give me what I want, I don't see a problem.
Facebook? Well, yes, they're exploiting idiots, but aside from the above two 'cornering the market' on something, they're not all that much alike.

So where is St. Amazon in this and why are they excluded? Because we're still 'getting stuff' from them I'm guessing. TFA is trollbait.

Who are the customers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467715)

The major difference between Google and Facebook.. and HP and Intel is that the "customer" for FB and Google is the advertisers. The general public is the product. Having used Google adwords as a customer, I can assure you the customer is treated well. They contact you with offers of free support from real live people.

It's computers, so it's completely new! (3, Interesting)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467777)

This is in no way similar to, say, my telephone number being sold or traded by businesses to telemarketers.

This isn't new, and this isn't unique to IT.

"Silicon" Valley? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467845)

That would imply that there was actual hardware development going on there.

Craigslist (5, Interesting)

SidIncognito (953776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467903)

The more I think about, the more impressed I am by the Craigslist model. There is no constant addition of features just for the sake of appearing to do something or for the sake of growing revenues. That's a service that is truly focused on its users.

Re:Craigslist (1)

rfioren (648635) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468517)

Are you kidding me? I tolerate craigslist because it's the only game in town, or the only one that matters (same with ebay and facebook).

Craigslist has just about the worst user interface / search / features that I can imagine. I look at craigslist and see a conservative and understaffed company headed by a man with many virtues, but takes a near-religious stance against any kind of improvement, evolution, or change on his site.

I admire craigslist a lot for not exploiting their users. But c'mon, lets upgrade the search/filtering/user experience a little bit! I don't think the users would cry over one new feature every year or so. I wouldn't.

Re:Craigslist (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468537)

Craigslist doesn't really have a model which is applicable to anything other than psuedo-random listings, though. It's the very base level of a useful information repository. I highly doubt they don't restrict adding features and making progress out of a lack of desire to grow revenues, particularly in the face of many of their features getting siphoned off into more dynamic map- and item- type search engines.

Re:Craigslist (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468573)

That's a service that is truly focused on its users.

Users? Not a chance. Customers? That is, the people who pay them money? Sure.

Craigslist is a terrible experience for a number of routine tasks. Their ads are full of scams that could be easily removed by simple filters (how do I know this? I've written the filters for my own use, likely breaking CL's terms of service in the process.)

Their search capability is so lame as to be almost useless for anything interesting. I've used CL to search for apartments and boats, and my kids have looked at it for jobs. It is barely usable for the first and completely useless for the latter.

The problem with the apartments and boats is that search and classification capabilities are poor. The problem with jobs is that where I am there are nothing but scam postings (this seems to vary by geography, so YMMV.)

BUT... if you are a landlord who just wants to get ads up easily and quickly in front of a lot of eyeballs, you go to CL. It's a perfect example of a company that has so much first-mover advantage that it is very difficult to compete with despite the poor experience for users, although PadMap/PadList is trying (and getting cease and desist orders from CL in the process due to terms of service violations.)

Alternatives face a major chicken-and-egg problem: to get customers using it they have to have users, and to get users they have to have listers. This is the great unsolved problem of the Internet, and it seems to mostly be worked around by various activities of questionable legality (scraping competitive sites and putting up copies of their ads.)

You know what I am going to do about this? (4, Insightful)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467951)

"Nothing! Because if I take it to small claims court, it will just drain 8 hours out of my life and you probably won't show up and even if I got the judgment you'd just stiff me anyway; so what I am going to do is piss and moan like an impotent jerk, and then bend over and take it up the tailpipe!"
-- Fletcher (Jim Carrey) "Liar, Liar"

Different scenario, same outcome.

Different then?? (1)

stedlj (62084) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467963)

And how they are acting any different then say 90% of the other companies in the USA?

diff:customer,consumer (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467977)

There's a difference between a customer and a consumer, and I think that is what the article is dancing around. There is a political corrolary to this, the difference between a citizen and a tax payer. We can see how this devolution from citizen/customer to consumer/taxpayer has taken place. A customer has a relationship with the provider and has some agency with the provider. A consumer is more infantilised, more of a "feeder", and has less agency. This also feeds the monopolisation trend he discusses - customers are empowered to go elsewhere, consumers, less so. Consumers are happy with whatever gizmos the monopolists provide them, and have a dramatically different set of expectations than a customer does. Citizens are empowered and informed. They may not be correct (in my vision of the world, but, it takes all kinds...) but they are actively involved with their neighbourhoods, communities, localities and nation-states. Taxpayers are not. Taxpayers are consumers of government services and see themselves as alienated from the systems of service provision. And as consumers, they want what all infantilised consumers want:

Something for nothing.

Napster simply provided exactly what the consumer had been demanding all along and what was native to the enframing of digital technology itself: copies of data, for free (or nearly free). Something for nothing. A customer would have been much more wary of such a proposition, but consumers are like honey badgers, they don't give a shit.

So, as interesting a lament as the article is, in fact, it points at large issues it cannot address (customer v. consumer) and also the disappearance of HP and its way of doing business. My wife worked at HP for 25 years, so I have some insight on this as well. The HP way started to collapse in the 1990s and took a BIG hit in 2001 with Carli Fiorina's incompetent reign at HP 1999 - 2006. She and her cohorts dismantled HP and the HP Way part by part, and basically gutted the company. Now it is basically a subsidiary of Compaq, even though it's called HP, most of the important decisions are coming out of Texas, not Palo Alto. I remember hearing back in 2000 how the HP way was under attack and people lamenting the "good old days" at HP. I think the article has a lot of that nostalgia clouding its view.

How we get out of the infinite regress of infantile consumerism remains to be seen. I am thinking that when oil production goes into a permanent decline after 2017, that's going to evacuate a lot of wealth that was being pissed away on meaningless junk, and people will have to snap to attention and get on the stick or experience enormous suffering. At that point, the ICT industry will evolve customers and relationships. How that will evolve out of the massive monopolisation process from above seems unlikely, so I would think it will have to come from below as consumers empower themselves back into being customers working with companies to get (work/play/etc.) done, and then become citizens who are compassionate and contributing active members of a society instead of taxpayers griping about "the gubmint".

Re:diff:customer,consumer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468255)

How we get out of the infinite regress of infantile consumerism remains to be seen.

Back in Granddad's day, the whole family worked on the farm from dawn to dusk, six days a week. Dressed up on Sundays and went to church. For entertainment, they listened to classical music and weather reports on the radio.

Lawsuit Uber Alles (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467989)

When EVERYONE becomes a patent troll and predatory lawsuit machine are those things still bad? Best case, the whole tech industry will implode into not making or creating or selling ANYTHING preferring instead to make all their money by suing each other continuously and shifting the same unproductive bag and cash back and forth among them.

Shifting? From what? (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40467991)

The old HP was a great company, but it was always atypical. Suggesting the there has been a shift because few if any other companies followed Mr. Hewlett's and Mr. Packard's model is a bit of a stretch.

Who are the customers anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40467997)

We've had this before. The guy doesn't understand who Google's and Facebook's customers are. Then, there are the sheep.

When times get tough.. (2)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468005)

When times get tough, you find out what people are really like. When you're living in times of plenty-for-all, it's easy for people to be kind and generous. The truly good, nice people won't change much, if at all, but the rest? The pretty mask and the kid-gloves come off. Businesses are run by people, and they reflect who those people really are.

Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468173)

Boo Hoo this is just Capitalism at work.

I'll take wordflation for $1000, Alex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468221)

I've heard it said that English is a living, evolving language. It's new words like this that make English deserve to die.

Silicon Valley History in a calendar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468473)

That artwork appears to be the 2012 version of the map (except that SAP's now on it, and it wasn't there in the version of the 2012 map that I saw).

The gallery of archived calendars is a really cute encapsulation Valley History [siliconvalleymap.com] from 1990-2012. You can see the boom, the bust, and the slow shift from names of companies that made stuff ("stuff" being "chips" and "firmware") to fluff. I was pleasantly surprised surprised to see Molex still around locally. And SGI, although they're presumably only building toys for a very select group of customers.

HP vs Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40468615)

HP is out of the PC business because it failed to make products that appealed to customers. Apple is wildly successful because they do. There may be niggles about the way they do things, but it is inarguable that they spend more effort than anyone making an easy-to-use product for the masses (90% of the public vs 100%).

That's the definition of catering to your customer and valuing them.

HP didn't, and they are now out of the PC business.

Somebody Chane his Diaper (1)

Biggseye (1520195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40468693)

This Guy comes across as a Socialist that does not understand that without a profit The internet would die. Money Making Commerce is what makes the internet viable without it we would be back to pre-www days. He really needs to get a grip.
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