Why do tech companies hate their customers all of a sudden?
It's a question worth asking after a wild week for two of the most valuable and important internet businesses. Netflix, already in the doghouse after announcing a price hike back in July, only made things worse by announcing its DVD rental business would be severed from its streaming video offering and shoved into a new company with a terrible name, Qwikster. Then Facebook rolled out critical changes to the social network's interface before users had a chance to get used to the last round.
At first blush, these moves don't seem to have a lot in common, but look deeper and you'll see that what unites them is a tin ear for what their consumers want. Netflix subscribers don't want higher prices for essentially the same service, and they certainly don't want any complications, real or imagined, from having to deal with a separate company. They also didn't want an apologetic and misguided letter from CEO Reed Hastings that communicated the business strategy behind the move without explaining the consumer benefit. (Possibly because there isn't any.)
What Facebook users don't want is constant flux on a platform that's become an important habit for many. What they want, more than anything else, is stasis-an end to or, at least, a slowing of the fast-running stream of tweaks and overhauls that forces them to study up on how their personal information is shared and spend hours tweaking their profiles so they can avoid having their own, private social-media crisis.