For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us).
(Keep this thought process in the back of your mind for now. We’ll get back to it)
Today, Google opened up Google+ up to everybody (something I argue they should have done since the beginning), including anyone without an invite.
Coincidently (or perhaps not so) Facebook made some significant changes to their layout, functionality, and design over the past week. We all know the one constant in our lives: when Facebook makes a change, the whole world complains.
Without a doubt, the changes Facebook made are significant. The way stories show up in a news feed is almost completely different and they’ve now instituted an extra “creeper bar” (not mine or Facebook’s terminology) to show the user what’s going on with their friends, in real time.
Most of the comments I’ve heard are not based around the design factors, the content, the creepiness, or anything else. No, the comments I’ve heard have almost all been monolithic: “STOP CHANGING, FACEBOOK!”
I suppose that somewhere inside of all of us is an inherent desire to remain comfortable. I suppose we all want to stick with what we have. It is the same reason that sooooo many people are still running Windows XP. If something costs money and is likely to make things more confusing, people are likely to forego it if at all possible.
What occurred to me, though, was that no one complains about Windows coming out with a new OS because it changes(I have it, more comments later on it). No one complains about Apple coming out with a new OS because it changes. Why? Probably because it costs money to upgrade. **I’ll forego, at this time, my argument that everyone should upgrade (except for Windows Vista) to a new Operating System whenever possible.**
But with Facebook, you don’t get a choice. They upgrade your account and Facebook experience for you, without your permission. And no, they didn’t ask you first.
And Facebook is free. They control what you can and can’t do (no matter how much we convince ourselves that we are in control of our own information) and we are their mercy.
So why the problem? Why the complaints?
Because Facebook has to change. Because there was this little company that started a social network with a dumb bird as a logo that is growing at unbelievable speeds. And because one of the biggest companies in the world that seemingly controls all of the information on the internet and how we find it decided to create a pretty good competitor to the big FBook.
And, people don’t have a lot of loyalty to Facebook. They don’t have any money invested in it. And switching networks will become more feasible as more people are on both.
There’s a threat at hand. Facebook is facing an enemy, one who is trying to steal their user base. This hurts page views. This hurts ad clicks. This hurts profits. This hurts their business model.
They can’t remain stagnate. No one can.
The best thing a Facebook user can do is to accept the fact that one of the biggest things they’re addicted to in the world is really, at its heart, a competitive business and nothing more. Zuckerberg might try to sell you on their “connect everyone better” mission, but they won’t survive without money. Like any capitalistic group, Facebook is a business and needs to stay that way to move any further. When people invade their turf, they’re going to fight back with everything they can because…they simply have to.
The better question ought to be, “How can you change, make yourself more useful, and still maintain a simplistic atmosphere moving forward..one that doesn’t confuse people?”
This is what Google has nailed. When they came into the search scene, they didn’t just stay with search. They made themselves better. They evolved. They made themselves more useful. But, when you’re trying to find something on Google.com, there’s no question as to where to start typing.