Taking Aim at the Mod Squads

from the the-customer-<i>is</i>-always-right dept

A good article in Business 2.0 takes aim at the various companies that freak out when their fans create any modification of their products, even when those mods are likely to increase fan loyalty and build sales in other ways. The writer points out that sending cease-and-desist letters to your customers seems like a fairly shortsighted strategy. These days, however, companies seem to have forgotten that the customer is always right – assuming that, for some reason, it doesn’t apply when it comes to digital goods.

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Comments on “Taking Aim at the Mod Squads”

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LittleW0lf says:

Re: X-Box is different

MS loses money on each X-Box sold, they do not want people buying them to run Linux or to run pirated games. I see nothing wrong with them trying to prevent people from modifying them.

Whose fault is this? The customers or the companies? Take a basic economics class and then think about it. Since when has a companies failure to compete become a license to abuse their customers?

If Microsoft looses money on each X-Box sold, that is their problem, as they are competing with two companies that make better/cheaper products. They either need to find a cheaper way to make their product, or they need to raise their prices and deal with the loss of customers to competition. Getting angry with customers for modifying their products is going to do nothing to help either situation, is it?

If I go to the hardware store and buy a hammer to use to break windows, what sort of legal action can that hammer manufacturer do to prevent me from using their hammer in that fashion? And what if I am legally breaking windows (as part of some sort of recycling program?) The fact that I might be breaking the law using their hammer gives them absolutely no right to send me a cease and desist letter for using their hammer. Why is Microsoft treated differently?

Microsoft is trying to play a dangerous game. They are attempting to low-ball their competitors by loosing money on their X-Box to gain it back with licensing of software after their competitors go out of business. Typical for Microsoft, which of course will raise the prices as soon as their competitors disappear. Them playing the game is their choice, not their customer’s, and thus their loss has nothing to do with this issue.

Brian Prince says:

Thousand Poppies Bloom

One of the key insights of the curve jumping .com era was the idea that you should develop something, release it, and “Let a thousand poppies bloom.”.
The truck was invented to haul raw cargo. Should the people that build and sell small campers for trucks be stopped? Or maybe the people that haul boats? People started doing these things with their trucks, and the manufacturers integrated that into their offering.
It is impossible to know what the public will do with your creation once you release it from the lab and into the wild. Creators should embrace this, and roll these ideas into newer versions.
note: Sorry I can’t attribute the quote. I think it as a Chinese philo, but I couldn’t find it on google.

Steve Snyder says:

Bottom line is simple

If I buy something, it’s mine. To do as I please with it. Of course software companies argue you don’t buy or ultimately own software, you license it for use. And that might hold up for software (though I still think it shouldn’t) but it does not apply to hardware–even if they try EULA’s. The courts will thrown them out–because the fact of the matter is when a customer buys an X-box, they pay money to take physical possession of a physical object. And as long as mods haven’t illegally reverse engineered the product or stolen IP (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t) no one can tell some one they can’t sell them.

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