The steep price of good technology

The steep price of good technology

Summary: What was good for the Netflix customer -- a less buggy experience, courtesy of Microsoft's Silverlight -- was bad for the 50 technical specialists laid off when their services were no longer needed.

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Netflix says that Silverlight was too good for some technical specialists own good.
If you've been in the technology field for long enough, and (hopefully) survived enough rounds of layoffs, by now you've probably heard every reason in the book that an organization has had to eliminate jobs: They were bought by another company and there were departmental redundancies. They can get the work done in India/China/[Insert Your Outsourcing Destination Here] for half the price. The recession has affected their bottom line and they need to make across-the-board cuts. They've decided to discontinue your project.

[My goodness, that there is a depressing list.]

But today I read a new one: the technology, you see, it is too good. It doesn't break as much. They don't need as many techies to maintain it. In short, they may need less of you.

This was the case with Netflix, which announced in a Dec. 7 blog entry that it would be eliminating the positions of 50 technical specialists. The reason? "We just don’t have the technical specialist work for them to do in Customer Service because of the improvements in our streaming player," said VP of Corporate Communications, Steve Swasey.

Swasey explained that customers watching movies instantly on their PC or Mac might have noticed that their player is easier to install and use since they switched to Microsoft's Silverlight. Yet what is good for the customer -- a less buggy experience -- is bad for technical specialists, which Netflix then felt they had too many of.

Thanks a lot, Microsoft! Just kidding... er, sort of.

Topics: Outsourcing, CXO, Enterprise Software

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52 comments
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  • M$ is responsible for many lay offs in the USA

    This is just another example of how toxic M$ technologies are!
    Linux Geek
    • So as a business owner

      you would rather pay for hundreds of employees to do the work of twenty?

      Business is about making money, and if Microsoft products are saving money for Netflix, and providing Netflix customers with a better experience, then it sounds like Microsoft product is working.

      And yet you complain, if this was an open source programs, and Netflix laidoff 500 employees, I would bet you would be happy.
      BroGnorik
      • Come on!

        He's got to be joking or he's some Mac fanboy living in his parents basement.
        stano360
        • I would bet/go with the later...nt

          nt
          TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
        • Actually...

          His nom de plume says it all - LINUX GEEK...
          Wolfie2K3
    • Get a clue. The only harm can come from Socialized software.

      Look at Canada. They are a capitalist country but have socialized healthcare. Guess what? <br>
      They've basically run out of physicians. The incentive is not there. Now Canadians stream into the U.S. every day for healthcare. <br><br>
      Socialized programs do not work. <br><br>
      So please keep socialized software out of the U.S., please. We don't want software that is receiving backing from governments around the world and got it's start from the huge U.S. program called Darpa. <br><br>
      We don't want that fungus, or should i say cancer eating away at the U.S. job market and economy. Our children don't want it either. <br><br>
      Ask them. They want Windows or OS X. period.
      xuniL_z
      • yeah, social = bad, screw-u = good

        If I were within driving distance I'd be running to Canada for health care.

        So you want anti-social software (and health care?), the screw-you-for-a-buck ethos across the board?

        Render unto Ceasar the things that are Caesar's.
        stevenjs
        • And you'd probably be VERY sorry you did...

          [b]If I were within driving distance I'd be running to Canada for health care. [/b]

          Just hope that if you were driving up to Canada for health care, whatever condition you had wasn't life threatening or serious. I hear the wait for an appointment at one of their socialized facilities tends to be long and painful.

          Hence the reason most Canadians are coming SOUTH of the border to see a doctor. The wait is literally killing them...
          Wolfie2K3
          • Never been to Canada I'm guessing.

            In America, you die in the ambulance waiting for the insurance coverage to be confirmed.

            The wait for elective surgury and non-life threatening can be long, but everybody gets to live if at all medically (instead of financially) possible.

            The upper class flies all over the world to obtain immediate but incredibly expensive health care, middle class Canadians would consider going to the states for healthcare as much as lower class americans would consider heading to Mexico.
            rtk
          • I was not lying, as you are. There is a shortage of doctors in Canada.

            The socialized healthcare in Canada stinks. <br><br>
            In the U.S. there is no provider of healthcare that verifies insurance before an emergency. If you can point to a case and data to back it up, then feel free. <br><br>
            Hospitals in the U.S. have the odd, but obviously sane, statement on the wall that no patient shall be denied treatment due to any reason including inability to pay. <br><br>
            Please don't be trying to advance the fungus sir, i live very near the Canadian border and I do know what happens every day. <br><br>
            there is a major physician shortage in Canada, for one, and people feel they get better care in the U.S. <br><br>
            You do what you like, but i want a doctor who has actually been fully trained in medicine.
            <br><br>
            You are right though, I'd head for a Mexican physician before I'd go to Canada and see a state sponsored physician who has minimal training.
            xuniL_z
          • You were repeating things you've heard,

            There's a shortage of doctors and health care professionals everywhere, including the US.

            Google "ambulance bypass" for thousands of references of the poor being shuttled around between emergency rooms. The statement on the wall apparently only comes into play once the patient is actually in the hospital.

            Doctor shortages and long wait periods are occurring throughout the world, including the US. The failures of the US medical systems, read any report on the rise and fall of the HMOs for starters.

            Further, with the breakdown and failures within the american education system, I'd rather have a doctor trained anywhere but the US.

            You go ahead and head for Mexico, you won't have a wait, just hope ya survive.
            rtk
          • Good timing

            http://healthcare.zdnet.com/?p=1628

            Proof that doctor shortages aren't a Canadian thing.

            Might want to watch how fast you throw out the "liar" accusation.
            rtk
      • What a dumb response

        I'm not calling you names, its just a jab at your response.

        1. Your response has nothing to do with the original post and quite uninformed.
        2. Canada has a lower mortality and morbidity rate than the US. please look at table one in http://www.usmedicine.com/column.cfm?columnID=91&issueID=38

        In Canada Health is a right and a social responsibility. The shortage of doctors was due to an idiotic decision to cut medical school admissions that is being addressed. Even with that, our population still gets better health care than yours.

        3. Open source is not socialized. It is actually quite capitalistic and democratic. The real survival of the fittest based on quality and market share.

        4. You don't know what your children want. Unless of course you feed them the same Fox News that's made you into a right wing drone. (not that I am calling all right wings drones, just the ones that cannot think for themselves)

        OK, Back to the real article.

        These kinds of layoffs happen all the time in all industries, more efficient methods of production and higher quality leads to lower requirements in work force. This also leads to career shifts and general improvement of the people that are open to change.

        It is great that Silver light has that quality. Too bad it only runs on Windows which MS will use it to strengthen the monopoly (with the help of companies like NetFlix). That's the only downside of the story.
        rarsa
        • Silverlight runs on MAC

          Its not just windows.
          kdjkdj@...
        • Two dumb responses

          Dumb 1

          [i]4. You don't know what your children want. Unless of course you feed them the same Fox News that's made you into a right wing drone. (not that I am calling all right wings drones, just the ones that cannot think for themselves)[/i]

          Dumb 2

          [i]So please keep socialized software out of the U.S., please. We don't want software that is receiving backing from governments around the world and got it's start from the huge U.S. program called Darpa.

          We don't want that fungus, or should i say cancer eating away at the U.S. job market and economy. Our children don't want it either[/i]

          ~

          I'm glad neither one of these two guys is speaking for me.
          hasta la Vista, bah-bie
        • It's captialistic?

          [b]3. Open source is not socialized. It is actually quite capitalistic and democratic. The real survival of the fittest based on quality and market share. [/b]

          Capitalism generally involves someone producing a product and then exchanging that produced item for something else - usually money.

          Communism - pure communism, mind you, as written by Marx, not the "revised" versions that are employed in order to make them "work", on the other hand, is a system where no one owns anything. Everything is shared equally - the work, the product of the collective, etc... Capitalism is considered evil because it's not fair.

          Therefore, the business model adopted by most in the Linux community would be closer to pure communism rather than capitalism.

          For what it's worth, the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote in 3001: Final Oddyssey about how future supercomputers would be able to run ultra complex models based on entire societies. Based on their future research, it was concluded that communism was best left to social insects (bees) as human nature got in the way EVERY time.
          Wolfie2K3
        • speaking of dumb responses....Silverlight is cross platform.

          It will run on OS X. <br><br>
          It will run on Linux. At least version 1. As for version 2 the necessary code and information was given to the community involved in Silverlight for Linux and the ball is in their hands. They had everything necessary to implement it. I recall the complaints about the Olympics from Linux ppl. due to having 1.0 support only, when the open source division/liason at MS did everything necessary to make sure the Linux folks could extend availibility to SL 2.0.
          <br><br>
          Where did you get the idea it was a Windows only technology? Were you just making an assumption.
          <br><br>
          Also on your 2002 stats you might have noticed that the U.S. is the only G7 nation with births and population growth enough to sustain it's population. <br><br>
          The GDP per capita in the U.S. is decades ahead of any other country on earth. <br><br>
          The U.S. gets 2.5 million new people every year, some illegal, which is much higher than any other G7 nation and many of these people are from 3rd world countries with poor health from the start. <br><br>
          Americans do NOT want socialized medicine and the government telling them who they can see and if they can see a specialist in a timely manner. <br><br>
          In Canada and other G7 countries it's not just elective surgery that has a painfully long wait, but also seeing specialists. Many times seeing specialists is an indicator of an underlying health problem that needs handled.
          <br><br>
          xuniL_z
      • Internet

        Didn't the internet come out of DARPA? If you don't like it, then why are you reading blogs and writing comments through it?
        Turntwo
    • So advocating a move to Linux is what?

      An attempt to increase job security?
      ye
    • Tech doesn't eliminate jobs it creates new opportunties plus...

      Given that this is an MS product they'll undoubtedly be paying somebody to fix the bugs and install all of the patches when the security holes start getting exposed.
      T1Oracle