NICK DOUGLAS — In the pure marketplace, the best idea should win, and a superior business should always trump the old behemoth, right? Yeah right. Marketing makes Go Daddy the most-used domain registrar; inertia keeps Starbucks on top even though the quality's gone to hell. Here are eight tech businesses we all use that should be replaced, but for one reason or another still rule our lives. Don't worry, the alternatives are listed too.
- Why it sucks: Years ago, eBay was just big enough to provide a decent assortment of goods and healthy bidding. But then the "power sellers" took over, driving out small sellers with thin margins. Scams, spammy listings and feedback inflation cluttered the site.
- Why we still use it: It's the biggest game in town (except Craigslist, for deals literally in town). The site's Wal-Mart-sized selection makes eBay the go-to site for buyers.
- The alternative: None, really; even Yahoo recently shut down their competing auction site. Potential competitor Etsy is rubbish too.
7. Go Daddy
- Why it sucks: "Hey! Looks like you want to register a web domain! How about also buying these ten domains you don't want? If you're not interested and actually just want to buy the domain, click this tiny link in the corner." "Hey! Before we get to the buying bit, here are some offers you don't give a damn about, all more lucrative to us than your domain purchase! If you want to triple your bill, click this big button! If not, here's another tiny link!"
- Why we still use it: It's generally the cheapest registrar, and there are like a million codes (I use "digg") for discounts. And now there's a button for skipping most of the offers.
- The alternative: Domain Name Wire lists others including Moniker, though Go Daddy is their user favorite.
- Why it sucks: Most of the videos are rubbish. So are most of the users and pretty much all the comments, which are either "This sux ur retarded" or "If you don't forward this comment to seven people a ghost will eat you."
- Why we still use it: Dude, it's frakking huge. They've got every Family Guy clip and a bootleg of every good video from all the other services. For publishers, there's the hope of being featured on YouTube's homepage and getting a million views.
- The alternatives: Vimeo rocks for sharing personal videos and getting positive community feedback. Blip.tv is my favorite for hosting a videoblog. Super Deluxe has better comedy. You can find good videos from YouTube and other networks at VodPod.
- Why it sucks: The company is constantly accused of freezing customers' funds or failing to insure certain purchases. Anyone who takes credit card payments (more than a few times a year) has to pay a percentage fee on all incoming payments.
- Why we still use it: Again, it's the biggest or only game in town, and a recognized name is still more trusted than some fly-by-night payment service.
- The alternative: Google Checkout is gunning for the market, and attaching the service to Google's ubiquitous text ads could create a juggernaut.
- Why it sucks: Crashes, awkward user interface, and a confusing environment that the average computer user will never learn, putting them at the mercy of the equally awful Geek Squad.
- Why we still use it: Other computers won't handle our files, right? (Actually, the most common Windows file formats work pretty well now on Mac software; Microsoft software for Macs is great.)
- The alternative: Apple's Macs, of course. After using PCs for a decade, I switched last year and have loved it ever since. If you switch now, of course, you can still buy a copy of Windows for your Mac and still play all the Windows-only shoot-em-up games.
- Why it sucks: The system's full of spam blogs (even though bloggers have to enter an insulting word verification on their own blogs), the commenting system is stupid (separate pages just for comments?), and the templates are junk.
- Why we still use it: It's easy as pie. Like, smooth pumpkin pie that you could gum even if you had no teeth.
- The alternative: For beginners, the adorable and friendly Vox; for those with a bit of knowledge, WordPress.com.
- Why it sucks: Ahahahahayeah. Awful users, spammers trying to "friend" you, broken pages, stupid ads, and the site keeps forgetting your login.
- Why we still use it: Maybe you don't, but tens of millions of people do (using over 100 million accounts). It's practically a Google for finding people, and a way to find a few songs from every popular or up-and-coming band (and plenty of going-nowhere ones).
- The alternative: Facebook, natch. Need new music? Try the Hype Machine.
- Why it sucks: The invitation e-mails don't contain the info for the event! Gah! And the page everyone clicks to is choked with ads. RSVPing takes the user to a page with no new information, a cheap extra pageview for evite, and the user has to go back to see the event info again.
- Why we still use it: No reason, really; evite's great in that RSVPers don't have to register for an account, but plenty of other sites can say the same.
- The alternative: There's Yahoo's Upcoming, which does require a Yahoo account to RSVP. It lets users easily add events to their iCal, Yahoo, or Google calendars. Google Calendar is fantastic. It autosuggests Gmail contacts when an organizer invites people by e-mail; the invitation e-mail includes all event info. Also try Socializr, which seems pretty cool, lets you import contacts from everywhere, and has witty copy.