In January of 2014 I penned an article titled “The Next Segment Of Luxury: Subscription Everything.” It was during this time that calling for any type of disruption to the now prophesied, holy writ via the mainstream business/financial media which declared the disrupters (Facebook™, Twitter™, Google™ et al.) had completely disrupted all that was available for disrupting, and would dominate these segments for generations was seen as heresy.
Today, it would seem, that once “holy writ” is being erased faster than the digital ink to create it could dry.
As we sit here today the idea I put forth nearly five years ago has much more credence than trying to argue that social media, or search will look anything like it does today five years hence. I believe we are in that moment of time where everything changes, once again, much like when social, as well as search, became the ubiquitous force that it now is over the last decade.
How much of change do I mean? Hint: Facebook and Google are today’s AOL™ and YellowPages® of the 90’s, and will resolve into the same fate. A stock market upheaval of any size and scope will only hasten that process. i.e., Stick a fork in them… You know the rest.
There are many reasons that can be assembled to further my hypothesis for today’s tech giants suddenly finding the road to further riches becomes laden with potholes, landmines, gullies, bridge out types hazards. But there is no one issue larger than the coming lawsuits through either imposing legislation (e.g., Article 11, 13 via the EU.) along with what will surely make a shark feeding frenzy look rather tame as the term “class action” begins to make the rounds.
And make those rounds they surely will, along with a circling pack of lawyers and firms that will make real sharks wince for their veracity and speed.
All conjecture, of course. However, to say there isn’t visible signs of “blood in the water” is probably just as foolish as assuming those fins just off shore are probably just a pod of dolphins looking for a shoal. “Happy swimming” is all I’ll say.
So this begs the question of not only where to next, but also, how? And it is here where my original thesis begins to play out in more readable terms.
From the afore-mentioned article:
So where would the next area of branding look if it were wanting to branch out? Another designer line of clothes? Car? Zip Code? Well, it could always add to, or improve a brand within a category. However, if you really wanted the explosive growth area that any self-respecting brand dreams of; it’s taking what once seemed worthless, and transforming it into something not only sought after, but has both exclusionary and aspirational characteristics contained as well.
Just look at previous everyday items for clues of this phenom. Can you say shoes? Handbags? Sunglasses? Computers? _______fill in the blank. (again either by price or “in the cool crowd”) Suddenly it seemed over night a great set of women’s shoes needed a red sole. A handbag now needed someone else’s initials to be sought after. A computer needed to have a fruit attached and so on.
So where could this next area or product category be? Maybe, its right under our very noses. (or fingertips might be a better example)
The entire web or internet as we now know it via the humble URL.
Let me explain…
The web and everything about it; what people have access to, the speed of that access, the curation of that information, along with the amount of it has been handed a serious new set of rules never before thought plausible. i.e., The web is (or will be) no longer an unenforceable, unrestricted vehicle in both information as well as speed.
For the first time the rules of the web as we have known it, have been inverted. i.e., The web and your access to it can be both restricted as far as what information, along with the speed delivered, with a now monetary enforceable pricing mechanism. It used to be if you wanted better, faster, more – you just bought the equipment you needed, hooked up, and you were off. Now? You still might need all that however, if you don’t pay or have the proper subscription it may not matter.
We live in a world currently under the guise that every URL (aka a web address) across the web is equal. That no longer is, or will be the case going forward. Depending on what today’s menu of search engine algorithmic criteria are ( and will change tomorrow) one may, or may not even wind up in the results. You can pay to be higher, i.e., sponsored ads. And, currently, more traffic means diddly. Just ask any SEO (search engine optimization) veterans.
Again, “For the first time the rules of the web as we have known it, have been inverted. i.e., The web and your access to it can be both restricted as far as what information…”
How well does this describe what was once taken for granted on many of these platforms? Shadow banning, de-platformed, demonetized, non-notification of/for suspension, double standard rule enforcement, and on and on. This is what disruption now looks like. i.e., the customer’s disruption, not the provider.
The social phenom that was once pushed as a place to share family photos and other such things has turned once friendly “neighborhoods” into calloused one-sided citadels that make gangland run areas look tame in comparison. The only social “neighborhood” more revolting than true inner city blithe is Twitter with its in-kind version for both civility , as well as thought expression. i.e., it’s devoid of both.
As I alluded to earlier, Article 11 and 13 are just the start.
Here in the U.S. all one needs to look at for clues is the vile responses via many a Twitter aficionado during the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Can you say “double standard” in what is allowed on Twitter and what is not? You know who doesn’t care what side of the political aisle one’s on? Hint: Class action lawsuit lawyers. They’re on the side where the money is, and that’s the only side that matters to this group. Period.
It’s easy to see and you don’t need to have a law degree to discern what’s building up taller and higher with every passing day or, tweet. And yes, it smells. But too a lawyer? That’s the smell that fortunes are made on. Bet on it. Same will go for search when all is said and done, in my humble opinion. Rankings? See above for more clues.
So what’s next a new iPhone® to show you’re still one of the cool kids? Nope.
I believe it will now become what “internet” subscription service you pay for.
It’ll consist of something along the lines of its own browser, a search feature, a twitter-like styled feature for quick social interaction and more.
News? Sure, but you’ll decide what’s in or out, no tracking allowed. (Hint: no Apple News® nanny-ism implied)
Social as in Facebook-like? Sure, but probably walled gardens that allow only people who are part of the overall package. i.e., you’ll need to be a paying subscriber.
Freeloaders, as in people who will not pay for such things and want everything to be free, or will buy counterfeits to look like they can, will be both sh*t-out-of-luck, along with publicly demonstrating they are so, much like, you either have a Bentley® or, you don’t. i.e., There is no counterfeit available so you can look like you do. And that’s where the “golden key” will reside.
Think of it this way: Would you pay for a service that allowed you to have some form of Twitter type feature for instant communication with your selected users and no one else, along with a place where you could do what you used to like about Facebook before it went all “1984?”
Again, would you pay for a place that gave you all the news feeds you wanted, but would not track your reading or anything else, along with allowing a way for you to reasonably curate your information as to allow for ads you may actually have interest in seeing? i.e., think classified or newsprint styled ads of old.
Or: you can continue to have it all for free just like today – and go further, as well as faster, down both the sewer and nanny-state with everyone else.
Can you imagine say, hearing a conversation such as “I read that on my __________(fill in the blank) service. And another person saying, “Isn’t that service expensive?” And the response comes back, “Don’t tell me you’re still using the National Enquirer™ equivalent of the internet still?”
Are you seeing my point?
“Send me a message.” turns into an immediate “Can you afford this too?” Much like when pulling out an iPhone was, when having a Blackberry® used to be a thing.
And it’s coming, I’m convinced, much sooner than later. Why?
Just look at what is recently being put forth by the inventor of the World-Wide-Web, Tim Berners-Lee from a recent article via Fast Company™. To wit:
“On his screen, there is a simple-looking web page with tabs across the top: Tim’s to-do list, his calendar, chats, address book. He built this app–one of the first on Solid–for his personal use. It is simple, spare. In fact, it’s so plain that, at first glance, it’s hard to see its significance. But to Berners-Lee, this is where the revolution begins. The app, using Solid’s decentralized technology, allows Berners-Lee to access all of his data seamlessly–his calendar, his music library, videos, chat, research. It’s like a mashup of Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Spotify, and WhatsApp.
The difference here is that, on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod–which is an acronym for personal online data store. These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations.”
I would implore you to read both the article in its entirety, as well as keep abreast of both his latest idea, as well as what may spring forth in unison somewhere else. For the implications are both ground moving as well as earth-shaking in a digital sense of the terms.
And if you think when I say things like “rapidly change everything that is now taken for granted” you can use the above link and quote as an example. Why?
Because if both Article 11 and 13 alone become law, and are implemented across the EU – the simple act of posting a link for you to read the original information for yourself to make your own conclusions, along with quoting any bit of that article to use as a basis for commentary to help understand the broader discussion, will all but be illegal without paying either some arbitrary “tax” or, be at the mercy of some arbitrary law for financial liability. And that is happening right now.
So, if it does pass (and all indications look like it has a real chance) where does that put the likes of Facebook, Google, and Twitter tomorrow if suddenly some half of the worlds metric for internet wealth (e.g., ads for eyeballs) suddenly gets put behind a paywall overnight? Or, better yet, what’s their adjusted stock valuation because of it?
Still think things can’t change overnight, again?
© 2018 Mark St.Cyr