The Likeability of Companies: The Big Four

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a blog post for a while now, but it was brought to the front of my mind today when I saw the updated WordPress homepage. It’s new, blue, and all up in your face. Personally, I don’t like it. Even if I get used to it eventually, right now I’m not too keen on the massive pictures in the reader, long-winded route taken to find my dashboard, and inescapable bright blue colouring that follows you around the site. I loved WordPress before, but it’s moments like this that make you go, “What the heck, WordPress?”.

In this case, my overall opinion of WordPress isn’t really diminished. They’re still reliable and make good choices most of the time. But not all companies are created equal. Some start out great, only to betray your trust years later by steering the corporation’s goals away from customer happiness and towards making money. Others were never especially likeable, but you stick with them anyway because you feel like you’ve no other option. Some are just friendly, nice, reasonable companies that never change. Likeability is a huge factor on which companies we are loyal to and which ones we avoid at all costs – we’re only human, after all, and logic can’t rule our judgement all the time (unless you’re half Vulcan).

In this post, I’m going to take a look at several different companies (specifically the big companies that I have the strongest opinions on) and evaluate how likeable each of them are. Warning: here be links. Also, bear in mind that while I might use some real-life incidents as examples, this evaluation is – by nature – incredibly subjective. You can comment or write your own post about the likeability of companies after reading this, but for now, here are my views:

  • Apple. Oh, Apple, where did it all go wrong? You used to be the underdog, the everyman to Microsoft’s business guy. That’s the angle you used in your adverts, anyway. You made good products and we all sort of believed you – then it all went downhill. Like a revolution leader becoming a country’s new dictator, Apple attempted forming a forced monopoly by making iTunes only accept certain types of files and causing some iPhones and iPods to reject the use of certain non-Apple software, such as Adobe’s. On top of that, Apple began suing anyone and everyone for creating products even remotely similar to their own. Then there’s the issue with people working in Apple factories. From being the creative brainchild of the great Steve Jobs, Apple has quickly turned into a stroppy, controlling bully of a company, albeit the developer of smart products.
  • Facebook. Is it just me, or was Facebook never actually a likeable company? If The Social Network movie is to be even halfway believed, the online giant was practically founded in bitchiness. Now, if there’s one company that knows how to abuse its army of followers, it’s Facebook. From questionable privacy policies to bizarre rules as to what should be taken down from the site (e.g. breastfeeding photos, taken down; pro-violence/rape groups, kept up), the company doesn’t seem too bothered about keeping its customers happy. They seem to be paying the price, though, seeing as they’ve recently been rated lowest out of social media sites in terms of customer satisfaction.

 

  • Google. If Apple’s the whiny former small-fry that won’t share their toys and Facebook’s the sneaky child that blackmails everyone into being their friend, Google is the kind-but-cool older kid at school. They’re the one who doesn’t seem to do anything that’s not for your benefit: from regularly updating their homepage with fantastic graphics to having an unofficial slogan of “Don’t be evil”, Google have made a name for themselves as the nice guy of the internet. While branching out into multiple fields of technology and obtaining name-as-a-verb status (Google it), Google have maintained the trust of thousands of users. High five, guys.

 

  • Microsoft. Like the great-grandfather of the computer world, Microsoft seems to have been around for ages. They haven’t really, but the fact that the company’s existence isn’t currently marred with privacy controversy or dramatic lawsuits makes it come across as having much more staying power than the likes of some other companies. Some people dislike Microsoft for its so-called monopoly on the computer market, and while they do seem to hold a lot of influence over that field, how often do they actually abuse their power? Unlike Apple, Microsoft’s products tend to accommodate software from other companies, and they’re regarded as a well-known, trustworthy company. The philanthropic activities of Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates, haven’t done the company’s image any harm either. Microsoft’s likeability doesn’t stem so much from its fun, friendly and informal attitude, like Google – instead, it comes from reliability.

 

I hope you guys enjoyed that list. Remember, like I said earlier, these are just my opinions, backed up with some stuff I’ve heard on the internet. If you love Apple and Facebook but hate Google and Microsoft, that’s fine. Disagreement is healthy – it’s why democracy works. Anyway, I’m not really up to completely demonising Apple; I own and adore an iPod, so it would be kind of hypocritical. Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments (I’d love to hear them) or even take this idea and blog about it yourself. Until then, my fellows.

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2 Responses to The Likeability of Companies: The Big Four

  1. Thomas says:

    Intriguing analysis! I agree that Google and Microsoft seem more reliable than Apple and Facebook, despite my lack of knowledge regarding technology. Apple does produce quality products though, and despite Facebook’s annoying privacy setting changes their site isn’t going away any time soon. I suppose there are reasons why each of these are considered important and worth blogging about.

    As for WordPress’ design change, I’m not a fan of how huge the images are either. I couldn’t find the dashboard at first but I’m slowly getting used to navigating the site… great post!

    • Mary says:

      Thanks! I’m not really that knowledgeable when it comes to technology; most of what I know is from Tilly, my youngest sister (she’s a complete techie). I agree that Apple do make nice stuff, but as a company they don’t come across as the nicest. Yes, Facebook probably won’t be going away any time soon. Maybe as Google+ and other social networks get bigger we’ll have more options and Facebook won’t have such a monopoly. I de-activated my FB account yesterday (I couldn’t find an option to delete it), and they showed all these pictures of people saying “So-and-so will miss you” under them. I feel like they’re trying to control my mind! Just kidding, but I’m not keen on Facebook myself. Then again, if FB and Apple are so popular, they must be doing something right.

      Completely agreed on the size of the reader images. Hopefully WordPress’ll change that. At the moment it’s the only part of the “new” site I’m not used to. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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