We’ve come to a time in web development where we really need to reconsider our trust of the free, meaning “free” services. As anyone can tell you, if somebody is providing you a valued service for free, that’s because you are the actual product, not the customer. Already in 2023 we’ve seen the crash and slow burn of Twitter, which many websites promote by using “their” feed as an embed. Of course, over the past two weeks these embeds have shown…
and who knows when or if Elon Musk’s whimsy will prioritize this to work, and if so, how much anyone should dedicate front page web space to it going forward.
Then there’s Google’s Analytics “upgrade” fiasco, which in essence replaces a well-liked and appreciated service with a lesser offering and a future business school case study on how not to roll out an extensive web service change.
One of the things that “quality” free services do is hollow out competition. After all, how do you make money doing that? And both of these services have done this in the past, and when the collapse or regression happens, there’s not that much of a mature marketplace ready and eager to step into the breach. Big Freebie takes the market hostage and eventually craps the bed or sticks it to the marketplace.
But… it’s our fault. We gotta quit falling for this. And by we, I don’t mean just the “customers” but also the investors and other pieces of the marketplace that help determine whether a business succeeds or not. Because WE DO NOT NEED HOLLOWED OUT MARKETPLACES.
This is an important time for all of us to be considering this with all of the “free” AI services being offered. Are you going to be the customer, or are you going to be the product?