Thursday, September 1, 2011

Concentrated power

The web promised a level playing field, a democratic free-for-all where all voices were equal.

Despite the proliferation of web sites and Internet broadcast channels, most web users regularly visit just a handful of sites. I met a client recently who just didn't "get" that his customers aren't interested enough in a regular "relationship" that they're unlikely to keep returning to his website, or remember their login credentials when they do... (He needs to innovate ways to reach them, but that's another story that we are working on with him.)

But there's a more insidious problem: there's a hunger for power that concentrates information in the hands of just a few key players on the Internet. Google, Facebook and Apple dominate, though there are others. They're battling to know all about us, to own those relationships and control the revenue flows.

The latest move is from The Financial Times, withdrawing their apps for iPhone and iPad from Apple's store. The company lived with giving 30% of gross revenue to Apple; but changed Apple Terms and Conditions required the subscription process - and hence the customer data and relationship - to be mediated through Apple, too.

This would enhance Apple's cash-cow with increasingly valuable customer relationship data, strengthening it in the battle with Facebook and Google.

Most players in the Market just have to live with Apple's changed demands. The FT has just declared that enough is enough.