Skype’s on Hold and Apple Crumbles: Do We Expect Too Much from Internet Services?
Richard Jackson from Watch My Competitor has spent his career providing people with an online service that automatically monitors business’ competitors, and he asks whether consumers expect too much from their internet services.
They weren’t even down for a full day, but that did not stop the world from noticing that a huge chunk of our internet services were all apologies and “technical difficulties” at around the same time. Skype went down, malware hacked Apple in a way that it never has been before, all of Amazon’s web services crashed together, and Twitter silenced its Tweeters due to a fault as well. These problems were resolved in a matter of hours. Yet the costs to these businesses as a result are still huge when you consider that Amazon makes $1,100 a second.
Companies that provide offline services can afford to take a break. The entire service of government in the United States shut down for over two weeks in 2013 and experts warn of another shutdown to come. People complained, yet US citizens survived two weeks without government. How would they react to two weeks without internet?
Well, 75 million Americans live every day without access to the internet. This is a staggering statistic considering how many services, jobs, and basic tasks require the internet. In almost all of these cases, being offline is not a choice. It correlates consistently and positively with one thing: being poor. 15 years ago, having the internet may have seemed like a luxury. Now, it is almost a necessity. The economics and customer service of internet provision have changed dramatically.
In 2014, there were genuine fears that the internet might become too full and stop working. Mercifully, these fears were unfounded and all the worrying appears to have been an overreaction comparable to the Y2K bug. Yet, as laughable as this may all seem in hindsight, both non events highlight how dependent we are on the internet. On this website, you can watch how many Instagram photos uploaded, emails sent, and Youtube videos are watched per day, per hour, and per second globally. According to the site, half a billion tweets are sent every day on average.
Our use of the internet is proof of our dependence on it, but if people can live their lives without any internet, then surely we can live without it for a couple of hours? The answer, of course, is all about context. The internet is a service provided to us by many different companies, ranging from multinationals to independents. For these companies, giving people internet is the lifeline of their business and – as the events of 21st September 2015 made clear – people expect the internet to be faultless.
Then there are the businesses that depend on being provided the internet as the lifeline of their business. You may only be using the internet to watch cat videos but, as you do this, businesses are putting all of their eggs into this cat video filled basket. Important meetings with people halfway around the world being arranged through video call, emails that have to be received by a deadline, files that need to be uploaded that second: people have come to expect the internet to work as miraculously as it does all the time.
These businesses do not rely on the internet because they are lazier than businesses who do not use the internet. Rather, they rely on it because the stuff which they need to do, day-to-day, relies on the internet. If your whole business model depends upon being able to email people documents the day you produce them, then the internet crashing is comparable to an entire factory instantly closing down. When the service of the internet fails these people, when they are left twiddling their thumbs and unable to do business, we realise that people are not expecting too much of the internet. Our high expectations lead to higher standards. The customer is always right and, when it comes to being provided internet, this could not be more accurate.
About the author Richard Jackson is a business expert and writer. He is also the founder of Watch My Competitor, a competitor monitoring service that allow its clients to automatically track the news updates and web activity of their rivals.