I think you made a good point about consumers raising their expectations (and thus creating innovation/accessibility by voting with their feet more consciously). I think a related point is that sites which want to establish a user base must realize that marketing to interoperability and convenience is a paying proposition. Too many sites see their “mcguffin” of “cool features” as a way to create captive audiences for nailing people to the site for ad usage. Yet what makes sites succeed with consumers is that they remove barriers to consumer use–things have changed so much it’s easy to forget that for all its clunkiness, myspace appealed to people because it used to be a kind of user-friendly bulletin board without some of the restrictions on applications and use of traditional weblog sites.
Myspace is a great place for users who consume music because it permits lots of interaction with the product by bands, and some interconnection between band and artist. Yet, to reiterate your point, nobody goes to myspace for the clunky and non-portable myspace player. Myspace genius marketers no doubt imagine that the lack of portability of this player is a marketing advantage, pinning the user like a butterfly to myspace. In fact, it is an albatross, all but guaranteeing that people will depart for another social network which offers more portable features. Facebook’s success is in some measure that its design, flawed though it be, permits the importation of various features which can be portable or not portable.
Yet consumers can create new ways to work even in a myspace/facebook world. Early on, I discarded the clunky myspace player, set up a box.net widget, and ported content in and out of my myspace page in the same way I port content in and out of anywhere else. I know of a few folks who use similar widgets–but with enough consumer activism, then the myspace music player would achieve the discard bin, and then a portable player would issue.
To contrast sites, I think that part of what flickr has going for it is that its content portability is reasonably easy. One can link up to easily put photos in one’s weblog. One can get embed hyperlinks. One can apply CC licenses. If it were only more multi-media in its upload systems, and if it had some facebook-style applications availability, flickr could overnight expand into an even more interesting social network.
Obviously, I enjoyed this interview, though I did get amused at the part about how computer people expect to be treated, because computer people put up with warranty disclaimers that no other commercial enterprise would accept. Your solution, consumers raising expectations, is a good one. I think the fun part is “how to get that word out”.