What Is Digital Monopoly And Why It Is Bad For Consumers?

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The current hot topic on the internet is whether or not to use services like WhatsApp, due to their updated terms and conditions. WhatsApp, owned and managed by Facebook, is one of the biggest cross-platform messaging services across the globe with billions of active users.

 
What Is Digital Monopoly And Why It Is Bad For Consumers?

The concept of monopoly is simple. When the whole market space is dominated by a single brand or entity, we call it a monopoly market, and the owners of these entities make the most out of it. Not just that, the nature of the business also makes it hard for others to succeed.

The same applies to the digital monopoly, where only a handful of companies are controlling the whole internet, in an indirect way. Ex: Two major social media platforms -- Instagram and Facebook and owned by Facebook. On top of that, WhatsApp is also owned by the same brand.

When it comes to the search engine business, Google or Alphabet is an unprecedented player, which also happens to own other popular services like Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, and a lot more.

Coming to the e-commerce sector, we have Amazon, and that brand has its roots in almost everything. It has a music streaming service, OTT platform, cloud storage service, e-books readers, smart home devices, and a lot more.

Difficult To Break Digital Monopoly

Brands like Amazon, Google, and Facebook are now enjoying the fruits of monopoly. Do note that, these were also startups, struggling to solve a real-world problem. And currently, these are some of the biggest (in terms of value) companies in the world.

At some point in time, these brands made a product that could offer better service than the competition. And now, these brands have become an identity of their own. Just 10 years before, the internet was something, which was only accessible for the rich people.

 

In the last 10 years, the internet has become a lot cheaper along with the devices (smartphones and laptops) that we used to access the internet. The competition is currently at an all-time high, especially for brands like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

One reason that makes these brands (Amazon, Facebook, Google) indispensable in 2021 is that they have made a name of their own. The services offered by these brands have also become synonyms to their nature, which makes them the top players at their own game.

In fact, Google tried to come up with a social media platform to compete against Facebook with products like Google+ and Orkut, but they could not replace Facebook, and eventually stopped offering those services. The same goes for Facebook as well, where, it tried to build a video streaming platform like YouTube, and it is still working on the same.

What About The Competition?

Almost every major app or service offered by these three brands have at least 100s of competitors. When WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy update, select users were ready to move from WhatsApp to other services like Telegram or Signal. The only thing that is stopping from them making a complete switch is the user-base.

Services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube already have billions of users, who create a lot of content. Hence, even though there is a better platform with more features, people might not make a switch, as it does not have a user-base. What's the use of a messaging service when there is no one to talk to?

Another great example would be the Windows Mobile OS system by Microsoft. It was a well-optimized platform with an easy-to-use UI. However, Microsoft failed to gather the developers, which made other platforms like Android and iOS look more mature due to the number of apps and games available on the platform.

Internet Is Now In A Mature State

Do note that, the internet is now in a mature state. Services like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp have become some of the most used internet services across the globe. With the updated terms and conditions of WhatsApp, I know the risk involved in using that services. However, that will not make me switch to another service, as it has become part of my life.

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