As Long as it’s Black

That’s what folks used to say about the Ford Model T: it came in any color you wanted, as long as you wanted black.  Consumer sovereignty has come a long way since the 1920’s.  Not only can today’s car buyer select exterior and interior colors and features, but each make and model car comes in several different styles.  40 years ago you had two choices when buying a phone, desk or wall mount.  Maybe there were a very few colors to pick from.  Today dozens of companies produce hundreds of designs.  The epic failure of products like Ford’s Edsel, Beta players and New Coke are classic economic 101 lessons demonstrating that the consumer is indeed sovereign and gone are the days that companies can force a product onto the marketplace or tell us what we want.

Unless you’re Facebook.

Here is a screen shot of how the Master’s Table Facebook page looks currently.  The design has been basically unchanged since September 2010.

Like it or not, all Facebook pages (not individual user profiles) will convert to the new Facebook Timeline design on March 30.  The Master’s Table fb page will appear as so:

And there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it.  I briefly considered deleting the page, but everything is connected to Facebook now.  I will probably grumble about it under my breath and use it anyway, while my friends that already use Timeline will keep telling me that it looks better and I should want to use it.  But I don’t want to use it, and my understanding of consumer sovereignty is that businesses attempt to produce what the consumer wants, and when they fail to do so that company fails.  Facebook has somehow became a game changer.

Facebook recently became a publicly traded company.  I have high hopes that they will be forced to become a little more responsive to the wishes of their users.  I know for an absolute fact that I’m not the only Timeline hater out there.  The question becomes how many haters there have to be in order to make a difference.  Wordpress users have hundreds (possibly thousands) of design themes to choose from.  How is it that Facebook can’t offer two?  How can a company born in the information age of the 21st century operate on a business model patterned after 1980’s Soviet Russia?

You may feel, and perhaps rightly so, that this blog is not the place for this rant.  In the first place, the Mast Tab fb page is utilized by exactly 40 people at this time, and I wanted them to be aware of the changes that are coming.  In the second, this is a free country.  You wouldn’t have just read a 500 word essay if you didn’t want to.

This puts it all in perspective:

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7 thoughts on “As Long as it’s Black

  1. I had to like this post! I HATE the new FB timeline. I do not want it. I will be forced to use it on my two pages, GRRRR. And my personal profile as well. Bummmmmmmer…

  2. Facebook is different from the other examples you mention because we users of Facebook are not its customers. We should never forget that we – or rather the information we freely give it – are Facebook’s product. Its commodity.

    (I did note you used the word consumer rather than customer, but still thought it worth a comment.)

  3. Trevor, I figured sooner or later someone would notice that none of us are paying anything for Facebook. That’s why the cartoon is funny. The real “customers” of Facebook are the people buying ads. If enough of us quit using Facebook, however, they would have a hard time keeping their paying customers. Keeping the users happy must be get some level of consideration.

    My rant was yesterday. Today I uploaded a cover photo and have been working on the Timeline design. I will probably make the switch before March 30, when I feel I’ve done the best I can with what I’ve got. Let the record show, I’m still Granny Clampett tied to my rocking chair at heart.

  4. I signed up for timeline at the earliest possible opportunity. Even went to the trouble of signing up as a FB ‘developer’ to get early access.

  5. I’m one of the few who doesn’t use Facebook and I have no intention of doing so, but I am also one who doesn’t like change.
    I recently changed from Windows XP to Windows 7 and I didn’t like anything much at all about the new . . . but now I am getting used to it, I have to admit that much of it is better (but certainly not all)

  6. You hung in there with Windows XP for so long that you missed Vista completely. Vista users were very, very ready for a change. Back in 2008, brand new computer buyers were having Vista replaced with XP.

    Honestly, I’m still using Vista and have never had a problem with it. That puts me in a very small minority (perhaps of 1) and I know that. I’m also using an Acer laptop that will turn 4 this summer. I don’t replace a device until it quits completely; ask me about my cell phone sometime 🙂

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