03 December 2009

The War For the Web

(Tim O'Reilly)
I've outlined a few of the ways that big players like Facebook, Apple, and News Corp are potentially breaking the "small pieces loosely joined" model of the Internet. But perhaps most threatening of all are the natural monopolies created by Web 2.0 network effects. One of the points I've made repeatedly about Web 2.0 is that it is the design of systems that get better the more people use them, and that over time, such systems have a natural tendency towards monopoly. And so we've grown used to a world with one dominant search engine, one dominant online encyclopedia, one dominant online retailer, one dominant auction site, one dominant online classified site, and we've been readying ourselves for one dominant social network. But what happens when a company with one of these natural monopolies uses it to gain dominance in other, adjacent areas?