June 11, 2001-- Newsletter #134
Goodies to Go (tm)
June 11, 2001--Newsletter #134
This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,
Did you hear...
NAPSTER is going to go the corporate way. It was announced last Tuesday that NAPSTER would participate in MusicNet a coop made up of AOL/TimeWarner, BMG and the EMI group. NAPSTER will license the music and distribute it. The MusicNet site is scheduled to go live toward the end of summer.
South Dakota has had enough of government employees goofing off on the Internet. Governor Bill Janklow has given up on trying to set filters and play one-upmanship with the employees. He has dropped the filters in favor of the pink slip. You mess around and break policy on the Web, you're out of a job.
Internet Explorer 6.0 will be out soon. The browser should contain something titled the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). It will allow users greater control over cookies. Simply turning off cookies is making it tough to surf lately. Many sites simply won't allow you their content with out them. P3P should help you with that yet still allow you control over how much you wish to be "tracked".
Now onto today's topic...
The Web search engine Google, on its homepage, proclaims, "Search 1,346,966,000 web pages"
Uh...no. Thanks. I'll just stick with these four.
Academic discussions regarding what the Web "should" be usually differ radically from what the Web "is".
CNN just released a study that suggests over 50% of the total time users spend online is dominated by only four companies. That's down from 11 companies just two years ago. The four dominating companies are AOL/Time Warner, Microsoft, Yahoo, and NAPSTER in that order. AOL/Time Warner alone owns almost a third of the pie itself taking 32% of online time. The majority of that time comes from email and instant messaging.
The pie is getting bigger. More and more people are still coming to the Web. The areas providing content for those users are dwindling. Consolidation is the name of the Internet game.
The CNN report of its own survey also noted the results of a Jupiter Media Metrix survey that reinforced the thought of the Internet's great consolidation. The Jupiter study noted that 60% of all surfing time is dominated by only 14 companies. They are, in order; AOL/Time Warner, Microsoft, Yahoo, NAPSTER, Juno, Ebay, EA Online, Excite, iWon, Disney, Lycos, About, FlipSide Sites, and C|Net.
The reason for the rapid consolidation is fairly evident. Smaller Web companies have become starved of cash. They either sell to those larger companies that have the cash or die. If they die, more than likely they'll be grabbed after the funeral. Once the money started dying out, buying and marketing became the way to success. The larger companies could do it and they do it well.
I certainly cannot say that process is terrible and hope to have a leg to stand on. I once owned HTML Goodies outright. It was draining my pocket and I was happy when Earthweb came along and supported the site by buying it out. Goodies would be long since dead by now had I been asked to support it. I seriously considered a couple of offers before the Earthweb offer that would have simply allowed me to break even.
Well...so what? So what if the Internet world is being lead by less and less parent companies? There are still jillions and jillions of pages out there. They're not all owned by the top four, right?
Right. We're just not going to them in great enough numbers. If we do, then a smaller site shows itself to be viable. Sooner or later the big boys come knocking and either buy, or create an equal, thus making it even harder for the smaller site to function. No one can blame the smaller sites for selling out, at least I hope no one would. Could you be strong enough to simply go out of business on general principle rather than bow to a larger corporate group? I couldn't. I didn't.
So what do you think so far? Is this a bad thing? If so, why? Better yet, who's fault in all of this? The big companies must be at fault, right? Not so fast. The few articles that discussed the trend took a tone that this was a terrible thing. Why? Is it lack of choice? If so, it's kind of "lack of choice" after the fact. There was a time when we didn't have to choose AOL, but we did. We just simply chose it into a phenomenon.
Microsoft is the same way. We never had to choose the products. There have always been MACs. We simply chose Microsoft into a monster.
Why is it when a company becomes large to a point that it starts to become newsworthy that, all-of-a-sudden, the company is doing something terrible? A successful company doesn't come out of nowhere with giant sums of money. AOL was built. Microsoft was built. They became successful because they put out products the majority of people felt were worth the money. The companies became wildly successful. That's bad?
OK, I'm off subject. Maybe you don't feel a company becoming large is bad. Maybe it's the company's gobbling up smaller companies that's bad. If so, then we're back to the same question. How big a customer base may a company have before that customer base is considered obscene?
So what's my point? I'm simply trying to understand how we continue to make companies large and powerful by choosing them and buying their products again and again and then stand back aghast when we find out that the company is bathing in money and buying up smaller, failing companies.
We proclaim that we want freedom of choice. We had it. We all chose a small grouping of companies. Some may claim it was a lackadaisical attitude by the audience. They should have researched. Well...they didn't. They made their choice. They made their choice off of a friend's reference most likely. Don't tell me the majority of people chose one company over another because of gobs of advertising money. Fifty commercials cannot touch the reference of a trusted friend.
We chose. They got huge. They're in charge. Now we want choice.
That's that. Thanks for reading. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
Joe Burns, Ph.D.
And Remember: Mind your Ps and Qs! I love this one. No matter which history of the term you give, someone has a different one they proclaim is correct. There are two that are most often stated as being the correct history. One is that Ps and Qs stood for pints and quarts. Barkeeps would keep a tab of drinks by marking P and Q down on a sheet. So, to mind your Ps and Qs was to keep an eye on what you drank. Tell that to someone. More than likely you'll get that that is wrong. He or she will most likely tell you the term came from early printing whereas the letters were placed, one by one into a plate that was then loaded into a press. The problem was that all the letters were backwards so they would print correctly on the paper. To mind the Ps and Qs was to make sure the correct letter was being used. Those are just the big two. Another is that the term is a shortened version of "Mind your Please and Thank-you" used in order to remind children to be polite. What about the theory that is came from the French? The term might have been from dance suggesting to students to mind their figures pieds and queues. I actually found seven different theories in just a quick look around.