Monopolies of the Crowd: Our Near Future
Various federal commissions are keeping tabs on companies in order to prevent them from turning into monopolies. But the onerous “web crowd” might overpower them with ease by creating de facto monopolies.
Starting with my own area of expertise – web site creation. If your web site isn’t on Google’s first couple of pages for your search terms – you’re effectively off the market. Why? Because no matter what FTC would do, we, the people, will “google it” first. Google didn’t just buy those 80% of search market – we handed it to them on our own.
If your video isn’t on YouTube – there’s hardly any substitute on that. Recent TechCrunch post on percentage shares of US video streams confirms that. I don’t remember YouTube stalking me with a bat to make me use their services.
Next – social networking. While MySpace/Facebook/Ning leave some room for competition, Twitter is the only game in town so far and so are Flickr, Last.fm and LinkedIn (to a point).
It’s not that these companies are brutal in extinguishing their competition, something Microsoft did to Netscape back in the old age of browser wars. Also, there are alternatives – technically speaking. But there is no real competition in terms of services’ social population and amount of interaction one would encounter. Heck, the reason Twitter crumbles every now and then because there is no competition, so there is no other place to tweet. It’s just that after we played with most social web sites out there, we tend to come back to one or two most populated, since being where the social action occurs is the whole point of exercise.