Monday, October 26, 2009

Facebook is like Microsoft

So to everyone's frustration, Facebook decided once again to change their layout.  As much as I hate the new layout and all the bitching I am going to be doing about it.  I am still going to be on Facebook.  In many ways, Facebook is very similar to Microsoft.  They both have a monopoly on their service and not many people will defect because they have already invested so much into it.

Microsoft got into this position by offering their operating system almost for free.  They allowed their OS to be licensed by practically anyone and therefore Microsoft because a cheaper alternative to individual companies making their own personal computer ("PC").  Unfortunately, once they got their 80-90% market share, they decided to become the 500 lb guerrilla and start bossing people around.  They tried to force feed Windows Internet Explorer, Windows 98, and Windows Vista down our throats.  Because of how much of a "standard" they are in the industry, people just have to accept, adapt, and move on.

One prime example of the dominance Microsoft has is with the Excel spreadsheet application.  The only other spreadsheet application I used when I first started banking at Comerica Bank was Lotus 123.  I'm pretty sure many nowadays have not even heard of this application.  Ironically, I heard Microsoft was actually a minority investor in Lotus so there wouldn't be the perception of a monopoly.

Microsoft Excel came to it's prime in version 11 (Microsoft Excel 2003).  During this period, Microsoft made a concerted effort to keep things consistent year over year.  An individual who learned how to use Microsoft Excel 1997 would have no problem picking up Excel 2003.  Unfortunately, when the engineers decided to move to Excel 2007 (version 12), they changed the whole layout and interface.  Usually when this happens, there would be a mass exodus of consumers moving on to other applications (because it's honestly a pain to have to relearn how to use Excel pretty much from scratch).  That didn't happen.  Instead, we, the consumers, created cheat-sheets and other references to help us cope with the conversion from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007.  Why did the consumers put up with this?  Because we, as the consumers, have invested so heavily in the software that there was no other option.

I now feel the same way with Facebook.

Because of how many of my friends are on there, as well as how much time I have invested both updating my profile as well as reconnecting with past coworkers and friends, it has become almost impossible for me to easily move on.  In addition, Facebook has become one of the indispensable tools that I use to keep up to date with the happenings of my friends (although some "friends" take that update feature to the extreme).

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