Capturing The Dominant Market Share Of ‘Free’

NEW YORK TIMES: The adulation of “free content” inevitably meant that “advertising” would become the biggest business in the open part of the information economy. Furthermore, that system isn’t so welcoming to new competitors. Once networks are established, it is hard to reduce their power. Google’s advertisers, for instance, know what will happen if they move away. The next-highest bidder for each position in Google’s auction-based model for selling ads will inherit that position if the top bidder goes elsewhere. So Google’s advertisers tend to stay put because the consequences of leaving are obvious to them, whereas the opportunities they might gain by leaving are not. The obvious strategy in the fight for a piece of the advertising pie is to close off substantial parts of the Internet so Google doesn’t see it all anymore. That’s how Facebook hopes to make money, by sealing off a huge amount of user-generated information into a separate, non-Google world. Networks lock in their users, whether it is Facebook’s members or Google’s advertisers. This belief in “free” information is blocking future potential paths for the Internet. What if ordinary users routinely earned micropayments for their contributions? If all content were valued instead of only mogul content, perhaps an information economy would elevate success for all. But under the current terms of debate that idea can barely be whispered. To my friends in the “open” Internet movement, I have to ask: what did you think would happen? We in Silicon Valley copyright to make commerce become more about services instead of content — more about our code instead of their files. The inevitable endgame was always that we would lose control of our own personal content, our own files. We haven’t just weakened Hollywood and old-fashioned publishers. We’ve weakened ourselves. MORE

RELATED: Google set off a furor on Tuesday when it added posts, photos, conversations and profiles from its Google Plus social network to search results, a feature it calls Search Plus Your World. Google said that people wanted search results to be more personal — specifically, to include more Google Plus information. Not so fast, responded a chorus of voices in the technology, privacy and antitrust worlds. People do not necessarily want personal information appearing in search results, some said, while others said that Google was unfairly favoring its own social network over competitors like Facebook and Twitter. The latest complaint came Thursday, when the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a research and advocacy group on Internet privacy, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating Google over antitrust complaints and earlier this year penalized Google for privacy violations related to its Buzz social network. MORE

RELATED: To help usher in Facebook’s coming seventh birthday, the company is learning how to use more verbs. On Wednesday, at a press event in San Francisco, Facebook announced that it had partnered with 60 new services around the Web to help show “actions” people were engaging in online. This will allow people to say on Facebook that they are buying, listening to, reading or watching something. MORE

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