I’m kind of in love with this LinkedIn post by Alex Kirk at Mediacom. In it, he traces out the battle lines for the impending Final Showdown between Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Spotify, and all their subsidiaries—basically everything we use in our online lives.
As we blissfully post Happy Birthday messages on Facebook or swap faces over Instagram or tweet our take on DC Comic’s movie universe-building skills, these platforms that we use so innocently…are trying to take over the world. Or at least the way we consume content and talk to each other.
I mean, we’ve been hearing this story for a while, although more as skirmishes for particular industries or outlets. Kirk, however, sees recent maneuvers by these companies as an escalation to Def-Con 6:
While years in the making, this is not business as usual. The events of the last few weeks and months show a far more cut-throat and ruthless approach from the major players. With such aggressive tactics in play, this is not a competition where a stalemate is a likely outcome. Rather, as a result of the great 2016 platform wars, 2017 is now more and more likely to be the year when we see casualties and champions emerge among those corporations that have defined the recent decade of the internet - and who will define the next one. Place your bets.
As much as I dig the idea in a kind of “watch Godzilla and Destroyah fight from afar” kind of way, I don’t know where to go with this idea. Part of me says, “As long as I have a place to post my selfies, I guess I’m okay.” The other part of me chills a bit over the broader fear of inherently untrustworthy corporations emerging as the “champions” of the war to control our public and private discourse…even as much of that discourse is commenting on surprise album drops and forwarding holistic eczema remedies. We hear stories every day of widely varying merit about this or that platform doing this or that icky thing with the information we’re getting and the data we’re giving.
We’re always debating Net Neutrality. And we can do that because the basic platform, the Internet, doesn’t have a dog in the fight. But if the basic platform or platforms that we use are inherently not neutral, it’s kind of a moot point. Which is the way it is right now, sure, but the only thing really protecting us is the number and variety of platforms that we have access to.
But the Platform War will, at least, be fun to watch until it isn’t.