How IT giants are slowing down progress

How IT giants are slowing down progress

In this article we will talk about the possible reasons why large technology companies (Microsoft, Facebook, and Google in particular) have sometimes very imperfect implementation of functionality in their services, at least in terms of usability. I think that anyone who has ever encountered their advertising accounts and business products will understand me. And you can say nothing about Microsoft Teams.

Why do products of IT-giants often have problems? 

It would seem that they have the best specialists and billions of dollars. Obviously, it's not about resources. Then what is it?

Let's dive into their stories a bit. Almost all of the big IT companies available have been pioneers in their industries, discovering new entities and markets. And understandably, in the early days of something, they created imperfect products that looked like MVPs (minimum viable product). 

They created "test" products that were then "finalized" and scaled. In the beginning nobody could predict the future audience size and growth rate, so sometimes the base product of the current giants reminds of a summer house, which gets "wings" when the family expands and money appears.

But it is the basic product that has become the core and foundation of all future add-ons. Thus, all improvements are constrained by the initial architecture, which is almost impossible to change.

Why then do not the later companies (including startups) supplant the "old" giants by producing a better product? Yes, the products of IT-corporations are imperfect, but they initially gained a monopoly share of the market, basically solving the basic demand of the audience.

The network effect (scale effect of the XXI century) works for them. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for newcomers to compete in the niche of these major players, even offering a better product.

This is the first reason why IT-giants "limit" the progress: having captured the dominating market share with the first product which is technically imperfect, they are hostages of their own 10-20 years old basic product architecture and do not let newcomers in. Because of this, we as users are dealing with products that are somewhat lower quality than they could be.

Now let's think about how these companies are evolving, how they are adding new products. IT giants in large numbers buy young startups, often in closely related fields, and integrate their products into their architectures. As a result, many new products are doomed to largely artificial "bridges" to a single core. A particular example would be Instagram's very broken connection to Facebook's unified advertising cabinet.

And this is the second reason for the unintentional deterioration of products by IT giants: having initially a fairly narrow product and large resources, they often buy and integrate startups to expand, attaching entities with different logics of work. Because of this, the connections between products are sometimes broken and inorganic. From this again, we get a bad experience with the artificial ecosystem of some of the IT giants.

What should we do about it?

Probably put up with it. :) After all, the variant of development described above is logical. But it must be said that the big companies are trying and spending billions to make their products better. Besides, if the basic technology of the giants gets too outdated, a future giant with a better product will quickly appear on the market.

So far, the improvements offered by startups are not radical, "disruptive" in nature, they can't get through. And we, as end users, in some cases have to deal with a somewhat worse product than it could theoretically be, given the current level of technology.

What do you think? How do you feel about the monopolies of IT corporations? There are even antitrust lawsuits against Apple and Google in the West right now. But today's high-tech monopolies are not unequivocally bad: their ecosystems often do not inflate prices, provide services on favorable terms. However, they are formally close to monopolies and limit competition, somewhat stifling progress. All in all, there is a lot to argue about.