Imagine you want to start a business, and let’s say it’s an original idea like a dietary supplement that claims to give customers some positive health effects. So after finalizing the legal and administrative part, you market your product online sell it. Voila you are now running a business where you are your own boss! Except that’s not true!
Why? Because of the business hierarchy of the world…
Your dietary supplement would likely go for sale on amazon.com, the largest online retailer in the world, this is because you want your product to be on a website that would get you large exposure and is also a trusted website by most consumers. Therefore, hopefully, resulting in more sales than if you were to sell it on your own website.
However, to sell a product on Amazon, you need to get approved as a seller and Amazon takes several fees from you as a seller so that they can make money as well. This relationship usually works well for both amazon yourself and the consumer; Amazon makes a little bit of money, you make some more money, and the consumer gets the product they want within two days.
Nevertheless, this also means that Amazon now controls what happens to your business. In other words, if they wanted to, they could triple their seller fees overnight and all of a sudden your business venture could be over (even though these things rarely happen at Amazon). But what does happen often is they actually just copy your product, put their own label over it, and name it amazon’s choice, and all of a sudden your product is now too expensive and of a lesser quality than amazon’s version of your product. So amazon has the power to make or break your online dietary supplement business.
But even amazon, the trillion dollar company, has a boss!
When you purchase a product on amazon, you are either buying it through their website or their phone app, and for this example let’s use their website. Most traffic on amazon.com is reliant on two things; browsers and search engines.
What if one day, the dominant company in both of these spaces, Google, decided that Amazon would no longer show up in their search engine, or what if they decided to give amazon.com a flag that the website isn’t safe.
Browsers and search companies can control nearly every website on the Internet!
But, even browsers and search engines are also dependent on something else; Operating Systems!
Operating systems can easily dictate what is and isn’t available on their platforms because of how they are programmed. That’s why, for decades Mac OS had different programs, video games and applications than on Windows or even Linux. What can also happen, is when an operating system updates, sometimes a program that you have used forever will become incompatible with the newest update of an OS. But the most common form of an operating system dictating on what is allowed on their platform occurs on mobile operating systems.
On mobile operating systems, certain applications will be banned and you will be unable to download and install them –even if their software is compatible with the operating system itself-.So, technically, operating systems control all the software that is on your computer, including web browsers.
Operating Systems installed on devices such as smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets are arguably the top point of control in our modern economy.
The top four most valuable companies in the world; Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google have one thing in common, and it is that they have all tried their very best to own the physical devices market, and specifically the smartphone. That’s because they know that owning the most popular device in the world that connects users to the Internet, is the ultimate source of control.
Software companies like Facebook and Google were reluctant to how the physical device companies had complete control over them. So, they began trying to own access to the Internet itself!
In 2015, Facebook and Google started launching satellites and high-altitude weather balloons that would allow millions of people to connect to the internet for free> using this method, they would be able to gather more data and dictate what websites users can browse using their Internet.
For example, a user is using an iPhone to connect to Facebook’s free internet program and the user wanted to go on to apple.com -the website of the company whose phone the user is using-. If the user is using Facebook’s free internet, he probably would not be able to access that website because Facebook gets to choose what websites are and are not available.
So, the next frontier of control, might actually be giving away free Internet to the entire world, and who knows if Facebook, Google or another tech company succeeds in this free internet venture, we might see the biggest gatekeeper of business the world has ever seen, and that is how just a few companies control every other online business on this planet.