Monday, July 18, 2005 

What's really happening at the edges of the internet...

Doc Searls says: "If all of the Internet's value is at its edges, Internet connectivity itself wants to become a commodity".

Geoffrey Moore says "What is core becomes context". Like the approx. 3 billion MP3s being shared around the world every month on file-sharing networks. Although the recording industry would hate to admit it, pop-music has become or is rapidly moving to the final stage of commoditization.

Music is becoming valueless and ubiquitous... it has become Moore's 'context'. If anyone doesn't seriously think the iPod's major driver is not those 3 billion files, then they haven't realised that the value has shifted from the music to the device, and the best source for filling that device is not CD's and not even iTunes, (that's a sugar-pill for the record companies, to make them think they are solving the problem... - they are not.) The best source is applications like eDonkey with its 299 million downloads in 2003 alone. P2P activity now accounts for 50 to 70% of all Internet traffic. In Asia, P2P data-traffic on the Internet now averages more than 10 times that of ‘http’ web traffic.[cachelogic]

The future is happening, and its not really a web phenomenon, or shall we say in the future it wont be seen as being a Web movement taxonomically, its a 'Pure Internet' thing, and guess where this is going... The ‘service ownership’ of typical PC based email applications like Outlook Express is not actually owned by the consumer but by ISP’s, and effectively rented to the consumer on a monthly basis. In the case of Web Mail providers like Hotmail or Yahoo, the service is given away for free to the user in exchange for personal information designed to push targeted banner advertisements inside the mail applications. However, Hotmail and Yahoo continue to ‘own’ the service.

Even Internet Domain-Names are never truly owned by the consumer, but rented from US Government sanctioned agencies and commercial monopolies like Verisign and ICANN. Connectivity is big business Baby! But... the Big Business grasp on it won't last forever. Albert Benschop, from the University of Amsterdam frames it well: “Over the years the internet has become nearly just as stratified as the society it stems from. The exponential growth and far-reaching commercialization of the web have lead to an ever-stronger manifestation of the power structures of society in the virtual world. At present specialized computers channel the data traffic on the Internet and portals and search machines such as AOL, Google and Yahoo! dominate and exploit the market of the internet-dollars. Strongly concentrated hubs have arisen that play a crucial role in the Internet traffic. They are monster-servers, diverting their information to millions of regular web-users.”

Watch out... because as Geoffrey Moore says, "What is core becomes context".