When we look around the world today, we see big brands that have been around forever. In the world of entertainment, it’s the likes of Sony, HBO, and FOX. In the world of fashion, it’s big brand names like Adidas, Nike, and Puma. The world is loaded with big-name companies who help us know what we are going to get. It’s a template that allows us to have a clear expectation about what will occur when we step foot in any given location.
It’s actually quite comforting to be able to find recognizable brands that have been around for a long time. It breeds a kind of familiarity that can feel like trust, and this helps us to know what we are buying. From knowing what a Burger King burger will taste like to knowing how long a Louis Vuitton bag should last, big-name companies give us the opportunity to get familiarity.
However, the internet was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be a neutral place; a location where good ideas and innovations would flow like wine. An arena where the underdog could win against the overlord. And for a time, that was the case.
Today, though, it is nothing like that. Take a look at your smartphone for a moment, and look through all of the instantly recognizable big name internet and tech companies. Samsung and Apple are likely to be the manufacturer of the phone. On the phone, you’ll like have apps from the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter. You’ll have all manner of extra apps created by the likes of Adobe.
These companies are now brand names in the same way that Armani is in the fashion world. The main question is, though, can they be replaced?
Are internet companies growing too large?
Even top fashion companies could collapse suddenly due to crises and PR disasters, with new competitors taking their place. No industry is immune to such changes, including fashion.
Is that really the case with the internet, though? Not really, in truth. Internet companies are simply too far ahead of the competition. Google, for instance, became the top name in the search engine industry by seeing off the likes of Ask Jeeves, Lycos, and Yahoo. It left them in its wake, becoming the go-to choice for people making searches online.
According to research from betting sites, these platforms have 30m unique users in a single day producing a dizzying amount of searches, how could you really replace that?
Now, companies like this can more or less do what they wish. They can change policy in a minute. They could introduce new charges, or remove a service without any warning. What are you going to do? There is next to no alternative option to visit.
This makes it almost impossible to make sure that these companies cannot grow too large. When we live in an era where companies can be worth one trillion dollars, though, is it really any surprise that some of the biggest companies in the world are based in the online revolution?
No country has ever been able to build up demand as high as the internet: it is truly global. This makes it almost impossible to stop their rise: by banning their products in one nation, they simply will push harder in another nation and make up for the shortfall.
What can be done to stop the growth?
Nothing, really – check out the numbers that these companies produce in real-time. They are hard to argue against. Despite concerns about data management and customer treatment, people keep returning to these companies because their alternatives are limited and lack competitiveness, making them hard to trust for improving the market.
This is a massive issue. And with over 120m smartphones of Android or iOS setup sold per month, it’s hard to see that stopping. Part of what has helped the growth of companies like Apple, Samsung and Google stem from their connection to the internet and our ability to be online all of the time.
You can see why this might be a big problem as time goes on. Growth will continue, and it will not stop. It’s almost impossible to envision other companies usurping these when all the people who join up online simply gravitate toward the default big-name service.
As time goes on that gives them the kind of power that is hard to revoke. Soon, these companies will wield significant influence over government policies and will shape society. They will determine content and privacy permissions due to their vast user base, granting them immense power.
Can competition truly flourish?
As we mentioned, part of the joy of the internet was that it gave small companies the chance to grow. And it still does. ECommerce sales across a month on platforms is into the tens of millions. These are mostly independent retailers, so the wealth does spread.
The only problem is that everyone finds these independent sites using the major names that already exist. They then share the stores on already huge social media platforms, meaning that it is impossible for any competition to get in through the door.
While merit still drives the internet, its largest companies do not rely on merit. No other companies can match the level of influence and power they possess without being part of the larger group of big-name companies. And that in itself is a major problem.