The Hipster Effect » Business news http://thehipstereffect.com Identity, society and work in the age of perpetual connectivity Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:35:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Occupy Netflix /2011/10/12/occupy-netflix/ /2011/10/12/occupy-netflix/#comments Wed, 12 Oct 2011 00:31:37 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=240 more]]> At first glance, two of today’s biggest ongoing news stories seem to have nothing in common. On the one hand there’s the Occupy Wall Street movement, a growing series of protests aimed at calling attention to social and economic inequality, among other issues. On the other hand, there’s Netflix, a video-streaming and rental company whose recent series of announcements has attracted widespread criticism and plummeting stock prices. But take a closer look and you’ll notice a common theme running through both stories: a demand for user participation.

When Netflix announced a 60% price hike this summer, the internet immediately fired back, with customers loudly proclaiming their anger and many cancelling their subscriptions altogether. By means of offering an olive branch, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings then apologized on the company blog, only to announce that the company would be splitting in half, a move that would eliminate many of the key benefits of the service. The internet cries grew louder and the company continued to suffer in the market until finally, yesterday morning, Hastings announced that Netflix would not be splitting in two after all. The internet had spoken. And while the price change remained in effect, Netflix learned that its customers were not willing to stand idly by while the company not only charged them more, but simultaneously decreased their quality of service.

The growing series of Occupy protests shares a similar demand: we, the people, will no longer sit quietly as the wealthiest 1% of the nation decides what’s best for the rest of us. We have a voice and we demand to be heard. It is through the internet that we have lately discovered our own voices and, even more so, the power of our combined voices. The old adage says that one person can change the world. In the internet era, we’ve taken that concept to the next level. If one person can change the world, what happens if hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of us get together and voice our demands? When Netflix announced yesterday that it would not be splitting its company in half as previously stated, we saw exactly what can happen: change. And although the stakes are significantly higher when voicing our demands towards the United States government, we are asking for the same thing: change. We want the kind of change that we believe to be just, not the kind of change that works best for somebody’s bottom line. The economics of customer satisfaction have changed, whether that be in the private or public sector. The Occupy Wall Street movement may ultimately fade, but the driving factor behind it will not: we are the people, we have found our voices, and we will continue to use them. The voices may not come with a clear list of demands, but they know when they have been wronged and will loudly proclaim it, as Netflix recently learned. Now we’ll see what happens on Wall Street.

 

Photo credit: david_shankbone

 

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Steve Jobs: Here’s to the crazy ones /2011/10/06/steve-jobs-heres-to-the-crazy-ones/ /2011/10/06/steve-jobs-heres-to-the-crazy-ones/#comments Thu, 06 Oct 2011 15:04:03 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=212 more]]> Yesterday, the world lost one of its great innovators as Steve Jobs succumbed to the cancer he had been battling for six years. The world mourned today and the internet paid tribute, with Apple itself posting a full-page photo and dedication to the man who made the company what it is today. President Obama may have summed it up best:

“Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it. By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world. The world has lost a visionary and there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned about his passing on a device he invented.”

In 1997, Apple released a commercial dedicated to “the crazy ones.” Following is the original unaired version, narrated by Steve Jobs himself.

 

 

So here’s to the crazy ones. And here’s to you, Steve.

 

Video found via BuzzFeed

Photo credit: Lore & Guille

  

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Life-changing (Apple) events /2011/10/05/life-changing-apple-events/ /2011/10/05/life-changing-apple-events/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2011 18:39:24 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=203 more]]> The internet went quiet for several hours yesterday as normally prolific bloggers and tweeters hunched over to view an event that’s as anticipated in the tech world as the Super Bowl is in the sports world: an Apple press conference. Dozens of live blogs carried a play-by-play announcement of Apple’s newest technology release as their website went down from high demand and thousands of users around the world eagerly awaited the arrival of the iPhone 5. What they got instead was the iPhone 4s, and waves of disappointment were quick to spread, fueled by users wondering why they hadn’t been given a new and improved life-changing tool.

Apple has always been at the vanguard of technology, giving us the iPod, iPhone and iPad, each of which changed not only the lives of its users, but the expectations and technology of society as a whole. Through including the iLife suite as a standard on all of its computers, Apple gave the average user photo, music and movie tools that allowed an entire generation not just to consume content, but to produce it as well. As Apple continues to pump innovation into the tech industry, other companies are forced to keep up and deliver new tools of their own, providing a consistently fresh and interesting market for the end-user.

When Apple failed to deliver the iPhone 5 during yesterday’s press conference, the disappointment felt by users worldwide had a distinct undertone: where is the next new thing? Where is the next new technology that’s going to drive us forward again and change our lives for the better? Where is the exciting new toy that’s going to change how we interact with the internet and the world around us? What users wanted wasn’t a technical update – they wanted an update to the way they live their lives. In that sense, Apple has practically become a deity within the tech world, and we await its gifts from on high.

Make no mistake about it, the iPhone 4s is still the best piece of mobile technology to hit the market. But what users wanted was something more. When Microsoft has a press conference, we expect technical updates. When Apple has a press conference, we expect our lives to change for the better. Apple disappointed its fans by giving them a newer, better version of a pre-existing tool. What users really wanted, however, was a whole new way to approach to their lives.

 

Photo credit: Glutnix

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Netflix doesn’t get the feedback loop /2011/09/19/netflix-doesnt-get-the-feedback-loop/ /2011/09/19/netflix-doesnt-get-the-feedback-loop/#comments Mon, 19 Sep 2011 16:39:44 +0000 Sophy Bot /?p=21 more]]>

“I messed up. I owe you an explanation.”

So begins last night’s blog post from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, attempting to explain why the recently announced 60% price hike is necessary after all – and by recently, I mean it was announced two months ago. It has taken two full months of vitriolic user feedback for the CEO to acknowledge their own PR error (coincidentally enough, the acknowledgment comes in the week following a 19% drop in its stock price). And what do we get for standing by as loyal customers, despite the negativity surrounding the original announcement?

“A negative of the renaming and separation [of Netflix into a streaming-only and rebranded DVD-only service] is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.”

Wait, so after letting two months of harsh feedback pass by unacknowledged, losing a total of 44% of stock value, and posting a larger-than-expected drop in subscribers, Hastings is writing to his customers with a negative? Well, at least the customers know how to give immediate feedback, as Twitter clearly shows:

“”You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” *cough*Netflix*cough*”@BtotheD

“”If a film I search for on Netflix isn’t avail will it tell me a dvd is avail [at Quickster]?” Hastings: “Ouch. You’d have to search both.”” -@tdominey

“Netflix: “We’re sorry for raising prices. To make it up to you, we’re going to make doing business with us even more confusing.””@flargh

Within about 12 hours of sending the email announcement and posting it to the Netflix blog, a full 11,578 comments (and counting) have been posted in response to the blog post, nearly all of which express varying degrees of shock, dismay and disappointment. By continuing to ignore the honest feedback of its customers, Netflix is ignoring internet PR 101: the feedback loop will continue, whether you are an active participant or not. In the era of the internet, feedback is immediate and constant. Companies like Netflix ignore this principle at their own risk, as Reed Hastings has once again witnessed firsthand.

(For the record, this announcement is making me cancel the DVD portion of my own subscription. I’d planned on staying on board despite the price increase, but managing two queues with no integration is too absurd a concept. For my Blu-ray fix, I will now use Redbox. Sorry, Netflix. I was with you until this last announcement.)

Photo  credit: _tar0_

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