Home / Tech News / IDG Contributor Network: The lock-in problem hiding behind Apple’s unit sales declines

IDG Contributor Network: The lock-in problem hiding behind Apple’s unit sales declines

I hate lock-in.  Lock-in is whilst you wrap a product up with such a lot proprietary stuff that the buyer can’t transfer to a competing providing. The benefit to the corporate is they dramatically cut back visitor churn—thus decreasing the will for advertising and marketing—and will center of attention gross sales efforts extra on obtaining new consumers, fairly than holding current consumers glad.

That final section could also be the issue, as a result of as soon as lock-in is accomplished, corporations have a tendency to defund efforts to stay consumers glad…and an increasing number of center of attention on elevating costs to be able to elevate revenues. Firms that include this technique successfully morph from being customer-focused to being extra like arranged crime and a coverage racket. You don’t purchase as a result of you wish to have to, you purchase since you don’t have a call.

On the center of my hate is this was once the observe commonplace with IBM till the mid-‘90s. IBM had probably the most maximum dependable consumers on this planet—roughly like Apple does now—after which nearly went underneath whilst I labored there.  IBM were given away with it for a very long time as a result of they have been additionally extremely customer-focused and had such mythical Steve Jobs-like executives as Thomas Watson Jr.

However over the process many years, IBM regularly higher visitor abuse and, in the end, within the 1990s, consumers fled the corporate. The inventory dropped like a rock, the then-CEO was once fired, IBM employed a brand new CEO from the outdoor who therefore done probably the most biggest layoffs within the company’s historical past.

Previous to this disaster, IBM was once an employer-for-life company, in order that revel in was once quite worrying—each for each the workers who left and the ones, like me, who first of all stayed. Microsoft—who additionally applied (and was once broken) by way of this custom—and IBM have each deserted this ill-conceived technique with a vengeance and now appear to compete with each and every different on who will also be essentially the most open. [Disclosure: both IBM and Microsoft are clients of the author.]

Lock-in additionally focuses an organization’s energies on overlaying up issues fairly than solving them.  Apple’s contemporary choice to forestall reporting unit quantity (which wasn’t really well won) is a living proof. 

Unit quantity

When an organization has accomplished lock-in and starts to abuse consumers, they are going to start to rise up by way of no longer upgrading or changing merchandise lengthy ahead of they determine how abandon the platform. As well as, fairly than being sturdy advocates, they’ll an increasing number of whinge about their remedy—or the product— successfully using away new consumers.  

For the reason that corporate controls costs, and consumers can’t simply transfer, the company can defer the monetary have an effect on of this by way of elevating costs at the merchandise themselves. My previous (fired) boss referred to this as “promoting air” and argued that if you have lock-in technique, the buyer had to shop for what you offered and pay what you charged as a result of, like air, the opposite was once way more painful. However tech merchandise aren’t air, and whilst the migration to some other providing might be painful, should you create sufficient visitor ache (like over-charging) they are going to in the end chunk the bullet and make a transfer. 

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