It’s about customer experience Apple, google, Microsoft, etc…

2 things right off the bat…

  1. Be honest with us
  2. Acknowledge the intent of your business model on a given feature or function

Customer experience is created in two parts:

  1. The things we know we want
  2. Innovation we don’t know we want

Here is the catch.

Business model drivers that force consumers to choose experiences.  This is a necessary but dishonest venture in many cases.  Companies provide obvious and wanted services in myopic and dysfunctional ways in an attempt to “own” the customer and transaction.  When really, they should be providing the experience and allowing customers to choose.  This would have the perverse effect of spending less resources on figuring out how to create lock in while opening up opportunity to innovate on killer features / functions.  Apple has billions and has yet to spend any of it creatively.  Apple TV is a great example.  Supper idea with a terrible execution.  All in the name of “lock in”.  Air Display anyone?

Patents that block user experience.  I am not opposed to patents, in fact I have successfully defended their value in debates.  But, we need to break the back of these patents that keep user experience in the dark ages.  Two key examples.  Menu bars and Sync methods.  I shame Microsoft for these.  Menu bars and the execution of windows UI elements were a war at one time.  So, companies such as Apple worked around that with all sorts of tricks.  Today we take all this for granted and it has created some innovation.  But it also locked out many other types of innovation.  The wholesale assault on Linux is a great example of how this plays out in market. Microsoft makes more form cross licensing Android then it does on it’s own products.  But that’s hardly the real pain.  They prevent a hugely important function that has killed many a company.  Sync between email, contact and calendars.   Sure there have been work arounds, but they all run into that wall sooner or later and it hurts consumers.  If not directly, indirectly.

My solution is this:  Be clear and honest with your consumers.  We need to have the standard practice of FRAND applied to “soft” patents as well as “hard” patents.  Today it’s just not used enough and it is hurting innovation.

Be honest.  We hear you customer, we want to provide that feature or function but X company prevents that due to this or that patent or protection right.  I use eXfat as an example.  Good work Microsoft!  We can’t use larger SD memory because you have locked up that resource and wont’ share it under FRAND.  But you will extort others such as Samsung in a cross licensing agreement to create that opportunity.  Oh, wait, you do offer an open license for it, but it’s way out of reach for anyone price and management wise and you locked up the SD makers so… let’s do that math?

Innovate with things we did not know we wanted and make it work.  This is a much higher bar.  Apple did it, Google is doing it, and now Microsoft is trying it, even if it’s failing.   But here is the catch, behavior change is hard.  So be honest with us!  We can’t do X so we are trying Y.  Please support Y and help us change X.

STOP trying to own our experience by locking us into your weird world of half baked rush to market innovations that don’t do most things well in an attempt to control every thing I do online.  Need I point to Apples iCloud?  Need I point to MSN, Live, whatever the current Microsoft portal mess is?  Or shall I speak to the RSS and other type products that Google half baked into life and then dropped?  To Googles credit, the have a strategy that is sometimes articulate in market.  The previous social fiascos and service offerings are often reborn in a service like G+ which does help users.

Be honest, and the world might be a better place for all of us.  Setting expectations that will breed change and possibly innovate.  In the mean time, I will struggle with 6 services that do 50% of what I need in buggy and half baked ways in an effort to avoid being owned while seeking Alpha on my customer experience.  Cheers!

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