Facebook and the Phone Companies Try to Lock You In

What does Facebook have in common with wireless phone companies like AT&T? Both companies try to lock customers in, even if we'd rather take our business elsewhere. Facebook is suing Power.com, a company that gives users a tool to pull copies of their own friends lists, postings and other information out of Facebook so that they can aggregate it with their other social networking platforms.

Similarly, CTIA - The Wireless Association, the trade group for the mobile phone industry, is trying to prevent customers of companies like AT&T Wireless and Sprint from taking their own phones with them when they switch providers. When businesses strive to maintain customer loyalty through improvement to the product or service offered, everyone benefits. But keeping your audience captive by holding hostage something that is valuable to the customer is bad for users and for innovation.

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It seems that when companies get large enough, there is a point when they forget what it was that was so desirable about their offering when they first started. Then they begin to tighten their grip and lose hold of the very customers that made them popular in the first place. Then along comes another start-up to pick up the pieces and the cycle starts all over again.
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At last, everyone wants to be a monopoly. Business is still business no matter what.

It sounds to me as though Facebook have a scarecity mentality. If they let people use power.com then they will start losing them to other social networks.
If this is the case then they are shooting themselves in the foot. Facebook is by far the biggest leader in social networking. Allowing people to export their own info is not going to stop them using facebook.
However preventing people from doing so will annoy them. It is taking away their freedom to use their own information how they see fit. Why would facebook want to do this is beyond me.
They should definitely re-evaluate the way they run their business. keep the users happy. That is what keeps them coming back for more and more.
Thanks for the article. Very thought provoking.

The people who use Facebook with their devices would like to use it on any phone, not just one locked with AT&T or Sprint. Facebook users will always come back to Facebook.com for their social fix. I am worried, as your are, that if the belt is going to remain tightened on both ends that the user will be forced to resign from both the phone and social network service. Just my 2 cents.
Radek M. Gadek, MCJ
Author of Criminal Justice Online Degree blog

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