On the other hand, most users insist on being cared for as if they were customers, and this is a mistake. If you aren't paying for the service you get, then you are not a customer. Lots of cliches go with this one, but the best one I've heard so far was in this piece by Steven Poole, published on Nov 3.
Dear users, please tattoo that on your forehead so you can read it every morning while you're brushing your teeth or shaving or putting on your makeup. If you're not paying for it, you're a hamster in a cage, spinning wheels that propel someone else's engine.
The Google Reader users got a wakeup call on that last week. And bless Google for doing that, because it happens to be in an area where we, developers who care about user choice, and user power, and open systems, and services as commodities, can do something to help.
Each time around the loop we create users who wake up from this dream to realize the tech industry hasn't been taking good care of them. Just as I wish that one day the tech industry would overcome the short-sightedness of this approach, I wish users would have a memory from loop to loop, and not get complacent. But I guess that's just human nature, eh? Probably so.