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Feb. 15, 2012 By

The Consumer - The Forgotten Player in Business

The Consumer - The Forgotten Player in Business

At the heart of  SEO lies the consumer, due in no small part to Google's focus on relevance. It's that user centric focus that allows well implemented SEO to drive high ROI and Google to secure a solid dominant search engine market-share.

Which is why I'm baffled by large multinational companies still treating the consumer as if they're just a cursory variable in their quest to generate profits.

Last month, a company called Ubisoft shut down their servers unexpectedly during a migration process. The problem being that it was their authentication servers. You see, Ubisoft appear to have this mindset that all PC gamers are potential thieves and as such, they have set a hard-line stance against piracy. This has led to the development of an “Always on” Digital Rights Management system (DRM) that insists you constantly maintain an active connection to the authentication servers even if you're playing a single player “offline” game. If we skip over the obvious (what do you do if your internet goes down or if you're a mobile person with a laptop?) it still comes off as a bad idea because, when combined with other intrusive DRM features they employ, it indicates that the company has little to no trust in its paying customers.

How has this move affected sales? Well, it might come as no surprise that its had a pretty negative impact - the official word from Ubisoft indicating that the drop is as much as 90%. Now while piracy probably does account for some of this, there's no doubt that the intrusive DRM, poorly optimised, low quality game ports and general negative attitude towards customers are also large factors. Yet, according to Ubisoft, their DRM is “working perfectly” and the 90% drop is purely down to pirates.

Throwing in a little hyperbole, what happens if Ubisoft decide to stop investing in the PC market? Will they continue to run the authentication servers or simply shut them down and stop renewing activation limits? Where might that leave anyone who bought one of their games? Piracy?

Apple and their seemingly overzealous attempts at preventing any form of direct competition arise is another situation to take note of. With a freshly launched suit by Apple this week and the global battle with Samsung over patent rights - some of which seem a tad petty, if I'm honest - all put the consumer last. Either, they pay through the nose for an apple product or they have any similar alternatives taken away from them. It all seems a bit pointless too. If apple were to win all of these lawsuits and prevent Samsung from including the features in their stock phones then a consumer would just make an app that could be installed instead. In fact there are many out there at present that do just that.

Reducing the availability of choice isn't really a good thing and while not directly chastising the consumer, it does feel as if our desires are being put aside in favour of corporate profit and market-share monopolisation.

I'd hate to think of what the internet would be like if either of these companies operated the dominant search engine. Thankfully, just like us here at QueryClick, Google have relevance (and users) in mind.

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