Things I will never understand – artificially limiting a digital service.

I have to admit that I don’t like Pandora.  I have never understood creating a radio station but not being able to listen to the songs I actually want to listen to.  I understand that it’s free and they are working within the bounds of their licensing agreements but it’s an artificial limitation.

Same goes for my internet connection at home.  I live in a fairly non-dense area served by Time Warner Cable.  I have the “Basic Internet” with the “Turbo Internet” upgrade which gives me 20 MBps download speeds and 2 MBps upload speeds.  Those levels are artificially and arbitrarily set so that TWC can provide “tiered pricing.”  The only argument they can make for the tiers is that if it was uncapped demand would be greater than the pipeline capability.  FWIW, that’s a very silly argument.

To upgrade my service they simply change a software setting on their end and suddenly I get faster speeds.  That means there is literally nothing that impacts their network.  It’s purely artificial.

Amazon Prime Instant Video is another example of an artificially limited service.  Did you know that you can’t watch APIV on any android device?  Not even through a browser.  It’s artificially limited to push users to the Amazon Fire devices or to a non-competing device such as Apple, Roku, laptops, or desktops (really anything not Android (see, Amazon builds Fire on Android so Android is “technically” their competition)).

No artificial limits is one of the reasons that Netflix or Google Music is so successful.  There is 1 tier and it gives you everything.  No artificial caps or usage rules.

Artificial limits on services serve only to irritate customers.  They know the only reason you put them in place is to try and make more money.  There is no technical or manpower reason, only a revenue reason.  In fact, it often costs more to create artificial limits than to open things up (I’m looking at you NY Times paywall).

Keep this in mind with anything digital that you do.