Rectal Monetization

August 10, 2015 by
Filed under: Internet Life and Humanity 

International MonetizationEvery business has a primary goal that must be observed and pursued at all times. That goal is “make money”. The way most businesses make money is to exchange it for products or services with their customer base. The exchange is above board, visible and recognizable by both parties. It usually has a well understood value equation; the amount of money given has approximately the same value as the products or services received. But this method of exchange is antiquated in today’s Internet Age. The new income mechanism is called “Monetization” and it comes in a wide array of methods and processes, not all of which are pleasant or acceptable.

Monetizing the Customer

The practice of “Monetization”, in today’s parlance, means to develop new ways to obtain money from existing customers. The fact that extra money is obtained is more important than the actual source of that money or the methods by which it is obtained. At least that’s what most business types seem to think. The problem is … they are wrong.

Getting Money the Easy Way – Google

Companies like Google have developed a philosophy and related business practices that allow them to earn money from simple interactions with their “Customers”. For example, untold numbers of people visit Google’s main search site every day. Yet even though those visitors are gaining value and benefit from Google’s service, they are not directly paying for it. Instead payment is made by virtue of various activities, behaviors and data-mining sources that Google has figured out how to turn into income. Thus the customer is “paying for” the Google search service, but the money is being paid via such an obscured path that most people don’t realize it. If they don’t realize it then they also don’t mind it.

Extracting Money Rectally – Microsoft

Then we come to Microsoft and their methods of monetization. Windows 10 is one giant screaming example of how Microsoft intends to go about getting money from its customers. The entire operating system is designed around tightly binding your data to their servers. They make such an overt play to get you to open your robe and show off your goodies that it leaves most people feeling almost violated. And it also results in a natural tendency to shy away or at least carefully consider what you will and will not share.

Realizing that their approach might be considered a bit heavy handed, Microsoft decided to obscure the real magnitude of their data mining practices. Scattered all throughout Windows 10 are various settings and options that must be changed in order to prevent the open sharing of your private data. As delivered, the operating system engages in a level of data exchange that is almost terrifying. The fact that you must go to unusual lengths to control or stop this behavior only serves to make it feel more improper. And that’s exactly why I refer to it as “Rectal Monetization”. It works, but no one really enjoys it.

Platform vs. Content

The problem is that Microsoft is in the business of providing the Platform. They are the builders of foundations and infrastructure upon which the PC market is erected. They have one basic package that they sell (an Operating System) but they sell it to virtually 100% of the customer base. Their other software products (such as Office) are also infrastructure products. Basically they are in the business of making and selling razor handles.

On the other side is Google. Well, there’s also Apple, Netflix, YouTube … and a whole host of other companies that are in the business of providing Content. They depend on the infrastructure that Microsoft (and others) provide, but they have a business model that depends on selling to smaller segments of the Customer Base. Even though the segment for a single product may be a lot smaller than 100%, they sell enough different products that it’s almost like a never-ending money pump. Add in the rate at which new products are added and the upper limit of income potential starts to melt away. Companies in the Content business are selling razor blades.

So Microsoft decided they needed to get into both Platform and Content markets. Can you blame them?

Bend Over … This Won’t Hurt A Bit

But it’s how they are doing it that will ultimately prove detrimental to the company. There is a certain level of tolerance that people naturally have for new things. There is also a limit to how much discomfort people will accept. By opening all the doors and (pardon the pun) windows in their new OS and then by hiding all the controls to close them again, Microsoft has once again sullied their own public image.

It won’t spell the end of Microsoft, not by a long stretch. But it will serve to further erode the trust people have in the company. It will weaken their position of total dominance in the PC Operating System market. And if they continue acting as if they are totally without blame or shame, eventually they will set themselves up to be superseded by someone less obvious about their greed. And more than likely the Microsoft management won’t see it coming until it’s way too late to stop.

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