Go to Netflix.com. Wait for the computer to load the page. Watch the page grab so much of the computer’s power that even opening a text file means having enough time to pour a cup of tea. So, why am I canceling my Netflix subscription after over a decade of use? Like many companies, they’ve improved it so much that it’s now useless – at least to me. But, there are simple success stories.
Ah, the site has loaded. Let’s see how long it takes to cancel the subscription.
“Cancellation will be effective at the end of your current billing period on Nov 13, 2018.
Restart your membership anytime. Your viewing preferences and account details will be saved for 10 months.”
Other – Many years ago I signed up for Netflix for movies. Now, the emphasis seems to be Netflix content, fancier site dynamics that overwhelm my computer, annoying instant play, overly large graphics, and generally fewer of the movies I want to see. It looks like it’s working well for you. Congratulations. But not for me.
Well, that was painless. That part of the site is a great example of how it could operate simply and efficiently.
Diworsification is such a common corporate development that there’s even a word for it, at least in the investment community. Take something that succeeds. Celebrate that. Then grow and change as power accumulates. Add more, and more, and more. There’s a problem with more. Just go watch Key Largo, an old black and white Bogart/Bacall movie. Edward G. Robinson’s character, the gangster Johnny Rocco, wants more;
“Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What’s that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t.”
He’s never realized that more is never enough.
Companies fall into the same trap. Growth is more important than sustainability. New is mistaken for improved. Any company that is continuing to try to grow regardless of supply and demand is ultimately doomed. Doom can take a while to arrive, but it does arrive. Sure, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix are highly successful companies; but I’m finding myself drawn to simpler solutions like Google, Chromebooks, and longing for the days of ad-free, ready-when-I-am, DVDs. Similar things are happening with WordPress, that continually changes its interface (which is making maintaining this blog more difficult). Even though I liked Apple products for years, they’ve turned me off with file architecture changes, a monopolistic approach to the user experience, and a sales attitude that is more elitist than egalitarian. Google has even retracted “Do no evil”, a simple philosophy that seemingly got in the way of growth. Facebook has improved itself into something far less useful. I only use it now when I have a faster computer and internet connection, even though all I want to be able to do is post text, maybe a link, maybe a photo (#SeePoliticsPostArt), and maybe Like someone’s posts. Now, Facebook has so enough options to fill a laptop screen, and takes so long to load that I can watch each element make the computer pause before displaying it. I’m using Twitter and LinkedIn more, even though fewer friends are over there.
It doesn’t have to be that way. New features aren’t required for growth. A wise steady strategy can prevail. Look outside the corporate world. Craigslist and Wikipedia are great examples of simple ideas, concisely provided, that are just as essential, and more reliable.
One way to keep costs down in a business is to use standardized processes, and only change when a benefit has been identified. Every imposed change costs people and businesses money as we have to take time away from work to figure out how to get the work done, possibly reworking web sites and applications, and cleaning up any mistakes that happened in the process. I haven’t had that issue with Craigslist or Wikipedia, but corporations seem to be chasing the phantom that is more.
Such a tendency is one reason I like to sell small companies when they become large. Sure, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Netflix are doing fine; but go back thirty years and look at the apparent solidity of Sears, Buick, and even GE.
At least for movies, I’m on a hunt. I’m trying Hulu, but only because they have Stargate SG-1 and Firefly. Their movie list looks slightly better, but not so appealing that I’m sucked in. The mute button is necessary for the anxiety-driven medical ads, and the fact that there are ads even though I’m paying for the service.
I wonder if this is all just another example of the bifurcation happening within our society. Those with the means can update hardware and software frequently, keeping up with the new features, and sending perfectly good equipment to the landfill. Someday I’ll get a smartphone. It almost happened this month until a business delay delayed my income. Don’t spend it if you don’t have it.
As technology incrementally leaves me behind, at least temporarily, I’m finding myself spending more time reading, writing, and walking. Two scenarios come to mind: 1) What would I be doing if I was a multi-millionaire again? and 2) What would I be doing if I was a mountain man in a cabin a hundred years ago? There’s a lot of overlap. Frugality by choice instead of necessity is appealing and liberating. Chasing my passions is better than chasing after someone else’s imposed improvements. Netflix and other companies, you’d be better able to keep my business if you provided the option of stability. If I like MS Word 2008, great; instead of dropping its support, provide it as a paid feature. If I like the old version of OS X, let me keep using it instead of forcing its obsolescence. If all I need is a list of movies, don’t force me to scroll past your animated ads for your TV shows of which you are so proud.
Enough is enough. More isn’t always better. Living simply is something society won’t encourage. Its best source is within. No company can improve on a person’s awareness of their values.
Now, let’s see how long it takes to drill down to my favorite WordPress editor.