Direct versus Indirect

 This post is over a year old, and likely doesn’t reflect my current thinking or mindset.

A common trope among those who write about Apple is that a service is somehow less of a real product when you are not paying for it directly. The biggest example of this being Google, and because of how they sell your information to advertisers, you have no influence on their product development. When one pays for a product, you have a “relationship” with the creator of said product. Without ones direct support, the product would not sustain itself and therefore wouldn’t be successful.

This, as any skeptic would point out, is bullshit. The argument that giving information isn’t just as direct as using a real currency sounds nice in theory, but isn’t true in practice.

If one didn’t give out their information to Google, then Google would have less information to sell to advertisers causing them to make less money. If one doesn’t pay for a product, then the creator doesn’t get their money therefore causing for them to go out of business if enough people do not pay.

Direct versus Indirect first began being prevalent around the time Google Reader was shut down. Before the shutdown, it was easy to catch occasional flares thrown around, mainly with folks like Shawn Blanc and Ben Brooks. The fact that people are able to say “I use X because I can have a ‘real’ relationship with the creator” and not sound silly is beyond me.

Saying that I do not have a direct relationship with Google because I do not pay with an official currency is asinine. I stop using Google, they cannot sell my information and then they do not make any money off of me. The counter argument that the amount of money they make off of me specifically is so minuscule that Google itself does not have much of a loss whenever I pull out is true. Compared to Apple however, the same is true. If I do not buy an iPhone, Apple doesn’t lose any money at all. I am one person, I alone cannot do much damage.

Compared to smaller independently ran product shops though, this isn’t as true. For an app that some unknown developer is trying to push to be his full time gig on the Play Store, it does matter if I pay or not. Her scale is so small that one sale can make or change their monetary goals. For those types of people, ad supported business wouldn’t make much sense to begin with since one needs much higher scale in order to make the same amount of money as being paid directly, but paradoxically as they are free they tend to have an even higher scale than those that are paid directly.

Ostensibly as the Apple blogosphere is a faucet of wisdom, one could assume that they can just simply say “Hey, we like paying for products because it makes us feel good.” Instead we have illogical arguments such as these, I understand that the cool thing to do these days is to snark against Google, and that it’s an easy way to get people to link to you. I’m not against that. What I am against is using bullshit to get there.


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