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?
While it may not seem possible, every big fashion firm could fall tomorrow if the right circumstances became available. They could no longer exist; all it would take is a bit of a crisis to emerge and a PR disaster. Add in a massive flow of competitors who can take up their client base, and every industry – including fashion – feels like it could see its big hitters replaced.
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. While some of these companies have gone through trying and testing times with regards to how they manage data and treat customers, people just come back for more. Their alternatives are so limited and incapable of offering a true fight for your services that they become almost impossible to trust and use to help actually make the market a better place.
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 see these companies being usurped when all of these people who join up online just go to the default big-name service.
As time goes on that gives them the kind of power that is hard to revoke. Before long, they will hold the keys to policy in government and will play a critical role in how society is shaped as time goes on. From deciding what kind of content we see to what kind of permissions we have with regards to our own data privacy, this sheer volume of users grants these companies massive 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 the internet is still driven by merit, its largest companies are absolutely not. They hold a level of influence and power that simply could not be matched without being one of the wider group of big-name companies. And that in itself is a major problem.