Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). In the last twenty years, the internet has gained a reputation for disrupting business as usual and shattering the market forces most found comfort in.
It took three historic antitrust prosecutions to start the internet revolution. In 1956, Bells Labs was forced to license its patents for free, which led to the formation of Texas Instruments and Intel. Four years later, IBM was prosecuted for trying to control the hardware and software sides of the computer business. To counter the case, IBM found Bill Gates and Paul Allen to create the software. A few years later, Microsoft was the subject of any antitrust case over its browser. If Microsoft could have made it necessary for its OS users to search only with Explorer, then Google would never be the titan it is today.
The near monopolistic nature with which Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple operate has led many in the digital ecosystem to ponder over the need to decentralise the worldwide web. The inventor of the WWW, Tim Berners-Lee, has said as much in many interviews. An unintended consequence of Metcalfe’s Law has been the winner takes all ecology. Now startups simply cannot compete fast enough with the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. After rejecting an acquisition offer from Facebook, Snapchat’s core product was replicated, shipped, and devalued by Facebook just a week before the Snapchat IPO.
It’s true what they say, data is the new oil. And so here are the nine ways the internet will continue its campaign of disrupting business as usual.
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From a want to a need to a way of life, the state of being that is “connected” will become the norm. The future generations will not know what outages or downtime is as we embrace universal internet layered across systems.
The rise of augmented reality and virtual reality means that we will be thrust headfirst into the internet like never before. Adoption channels such as Oculus, Playstation VR, and HoloLens are carving the path forward.
Repetitive tasks are on the way out. While there’s at least a decade left before three million jobs are eradicated due to mass automation, it is a cause for concern. On the other hand, knowing ahead of time is always a plus point so preparing in advance must be the proactive stance for the future losers.
This will become commoditized, and possibly prized in the future. The world is showing signs of eagerness for subscription services with the promise of their cookies not being stored in a DMP for remarketing purposes. As more people start valuing their identities, privacy will be something only the wealthy can afford.
Specifically around the internet of things, regardless if we’re referring to the consumer applications or the corporate applications. Refrigerators, alarm clocks, vehicles, wallets, and health monitors will be synced at all times, disrupting the business of demand prediction and supply chain optimisers.
If they feel to keep up, like many have in the past, the changes may get ahead of the government which means they will be left behind. And even worse, they may be in no position to demand a change in the way internet businesses operate or risk hurting the viability of a model with a CAPEX in the way things are.
It will become democratised which means everyone will have access to information, and the application of knowledge will be valued more than certificates, diploma’s, and degrees. This will not only be disrupting the business of Ivy League schools but also recruiters as the world start focusing on the KPI’s that actually matter and not the optics.
With all this happening all at once, non-digital natives will struggle to accept the change. They will also struggle to come to terms with the change. They will also struggle to take the steps necessary once they have accepted the changes. And finally, they will suffer panic and anxiety disorders the moment there is a new change following their journey through the denial & acceptance of the last change. That’s a lot to take in.
If Musk succeeds, the internet will be off Earth as well.