We Are the Product

Once upon a time, the customer was the foundation for an economic system. More and more, however, we are not. Instead, we are the product that drives market value in an entirely different direction.

Consider these two quotes published today. First, from Daring Fireball (‘Clopen’ Sounds Like Something You Treat With Antibiotics):

It isn’t just that Google doesn’t sell the Android operating system to consumers. It is that the consumer is Google’s product. Android is a delivery system to serve the consumer to Google’s target market — the advertisers.

Then this one, from a story on CBC.ca today (Richest CEOs will earn your 2012 salary by noon):

… many companies use stock options for a large part of their executives’ bonuses, a practice that not only drives up pay packages but also ties compensation to share price rather than company performance …

Google’s business plan is to resell its customers to advertisers. Corporations are motivated neither by customer satisfaction nor interest, but by shareholder return, which is measured not in our satisfaction, but numerical abstraction based in part on how many of us horses are locked in the stable.

It’s a world turned upside down when the customer becomes ancillary to a marketplace. Instead of being the driving purpose, we are now the product that drives value to other interests, like shareholders and advertisers.

No wonder the world’s economic climate is so screwy. We, the customer, are no longer the focus of a game that has become so grossly abstract as to be fantasy.

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