Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Giving us Choices or Restricting Them?

Look! It's really simple here.

Some companies are working to give us choices in the marketplace.  Some companies work very hard to limit our choices.

Google works to give me choices through innovation and by empowering businesses that surround it in the marketplace. (Android phones for instance, are available from a number of vendors, and on a number of cell phone carriers' platforms.)

Apple endeavors to limit my choices. (The iPhone will at soon be available at last, on more than one cell network, but is still available from only one vendor. And of course, some of us are having a hard time believing Steve Jobs' claim that Flash is unfit for the iPad.)

Hulu and TiVo work to give me choices. (The ability to select programming according to my wishes and schedules is no longer revolutionary, it's what I demand.)  Comcast and Viacom endeavor to limit my choices.

Memo to the marketplace:  If you actively engage in an effort to restrict the number of choices in the marketplace, we will see who you are and you will fail.  Players who work to innovate and compete in the marketplace by innovating and standing for excellence will be the winners.

Now what brings this one for me?  It's this little vignette in the ongoing battle between Viacom and YouTube.  If this claim can be substantiated, it is clearly the dying screeches of a brobdingnagian corporate beast headed for extinction.  Even if the claim is fallacious, that is what you're hearing given the expectation that 1 in 8 American households will stop paying for cable or satellite in the coming year.

The writing is on the wall.  If you are interested in giving us what we want, you'll thrive. If you're committed to shoving it down our throats and will work to defend that position, you're headed for the tar pits.

So anyone want a cable converter box? You can find mine on freecycle.org.