Have you ever tried to use your browser without AdBlock installed? The amount of ads and distractions from the task at hand is staggering...
Google's Deteriorating Experience
In recent years, Google users have developed a specific complaint about the ubiquitous search engine: they can't find answers. Searches like "best pc for gaming" lead to pages dominated by sponsored links, with actual results filled with low-quality, search-engine-optimized affiliate content. As a result, users resort to work-arounds and hacks to find useful information among the ads and low-quality content. Google's flagship service now disappoints.
Facebook and Amazon's Declining Core Products
Google isn't the only tech giant with a deteriorating core product. Facebook constantly floods users' feeds with sponsored content, burying the things people want to see. The "junkification of Amazon" has made it nearly impossible for users to find high-quality products, instead directing them to ad-riddled result pages filled with low-quality items. These negative online experiences are symptoms of an insidious problem: user experience has become subordinate to company stock prices. Tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Meta have monetized confusion and prioritized short-term fads over meaningful innovation.
Abandoning the Core Product
In the 2000s and early 2010s, tech companies produced new, interesting products, which led to explosive growth. However, a slowdown in user adoption has caused a crisis in the Valley, leading companies to abandon their original missions and resort to hyper-monetizing customer interactions. The most extreme example is Meta's pivot to the metaverse, which has seen little success, while their core product, Facebook, suffers from a push-pull between user desires and revenue-generating content.
Many companies' attempts to innovate are driven by hype and the desire to impress Wall Street, rather than improve user experience. Microsoft's metaverse hype and subsequent shift to AI exemplify this trend-chasing. Billions of dollars have shifted toward new technology without considering user needs or product quality. In contrast, Netflix successfully pivoted from DVDs to streaming by iterating on their core product and making the experience better.
The 'Growth Mindset' is Killing Tech
The focus on growth, rather than innovation or providing a service, has led companies to create "good enough" services to sell advertising. Tech companies prioritize appealing to Wall Street investors and chasing growth metrics, rather than building useful products and sustainable businesses. This mindset has trickled down to early-stage startups, with venture capital pushing for growth-first models and prioritizing trends over user experience.
The result is a genuine lack of innovation, leading to a more exhausting online experience. This is why it's harder to find information, buy products, and connect with people on social media. A "successful" tech company only needs to be good enough, rather than truly innovative or helpful to its users.
One good thing is that all of this focus on stock price and revenue leaves the tech industry ripe for disruption.
Technomancer is a science and tech enthusiast who enjoys writing about software and AI and other tech topics.