Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More on EA, and free services.

I've said before, as have many other people, that if you're not paying for a service (such as Twitter or Facebook) and sometimes even if you are (such as cable television) then you are not the customer; you are the product. To cable TV providers, there are multiple products flowing in each direction; your eyeballs are the primary product, but they also see the scheduled programming to get you to watch the ads as a product. This attitude is actually somewhat characteristic of middlemen; there's some customer nature and some product nature on both sides of whatever deal they're in the middle of.

And that's where EA sits: as a middleman. The games they produce are a product; the sales we generate by buying those games are the product that EA sells to the developers, and that essentially means that we're product to EA as well. An intangible product, and that's where the trouble arises.

Normally, with a tangible product, it's both easy to determine damage and costly to incur damage in the delivery of the product. This means that the suppliers of that product will go to great lengths to avoid damaging the product; enormous amounts of expanded polystyrene stand testament to that. Intangible products seem to get no such care. Twitter will change its user experience radically, with no warning, resulting in disaffection among users; this is damage to the product, because a disgruntled person who's shown an ad will be FAR less inclined to click through than would a happy person. Facebook does similar things, to a greater extent due to its more pervasive nature, and yet advertisers will continue to buy its product. EA will make decisions which annoy buyers of games, making them reluctant to do business with EA, because EA haven't yet figured out that this is essentially damaging one of their products deliberately.

I've no great objection to being an intangible product, but I would like it if the various companies selling me as such would wise up and try to avoid damaging their product. My doctor would no doubt be much happier with my stress levels, and the LA would find me far less irritable!

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