Dominic Graham de Montrose discusses digital platforms including Twitter's dropping share price and our reliance on search engines such as Google.

 dominic-montrose

"The impact of last week's disappointing results on Twitter's share price may or may not turn out to represent systemic problems in its business model, but it prompted a thought experiment - what would happen if, god forbid, it went under?

In Twitter's case, I fairly swiftly concluded that while it would have an impact on a number of businesses and politicians - not to mention the industry of 'experts' which has grown up, advising clients on how to use a 140-character communications channel, something which comes naturally to teenagers - that it would not be enough to prompt an intervention or bailout.

But what about Google? Over the years, Google has not only become ubiquitous over the past decade, but its technology has not only been widely adopted, but is increasingly the foundation for numerous business models and processes - and (almost) all on the basis of a "free-to-use" pricing model. From Gmail to Google Maps, from YouTube to Google (or is that Alphabet) Fibre, many businesses and users don't even realise just how reliant we have become on Google's technology.

So, back to the 'unthinkable' question, and the advertising Dollars which have been funding this apparent technological altruism dry up, causing Google to go bust? Would we find that - as with the banking industry in 2008 - our economy had become too reliant on Google to allow it to go to the wall? And, if deemed vital infrastructure, would that necessitate 'bailout', or even 'nationalisation'? And if so, who should be responsible to fund it? Would a Google part- or fully-owned by the US government continue to be a trusted (or trustworthy) platform for global users?

Clearly, we're not yet facing this issue, but stranger things have happened. And, the longer current trends run, we will only become more reliant on not only Google, but a diminishing handful of global technology providers on whom our lives and livelihood are increasingly dependent."

 

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