It’s pretty funny how weird that sounds. I first jumped online as a wee teenager back when AOL and Netscape were the major players, when dial up was the only way to get online. When the first Diablo game was super popular. If something like Google crashed back then, we’d collectively shrug and find a different search engine. No big deal.
Not to get political about this, but this is why monopolies are a bad idea and should be very heavily discouraged. Than again, I’m of the opinion that once someone reaches a certain monetary milestone, say billionaire, they should have to cash out their billion and sit the rest of the capitalist game out. Here’s a trophy, and your winnings, it’s someone else’s turn.
But at the rate humanity is going, with no one willing to cap monopolies, it’s inevitable problems like this will keep happening and on a greater scale. I’m going to run with Google, since that’s what triggered this post.
So, Google has a little hiccup, decides it needs to upgrade its services because of space issues or security, buys up a competitor, because it’s easier to buy a system all ready in place than to build its own. More people automatically migrate to Google after their smaller company is bought out.
More people start using Google because population growth is a thing and developing nations are finally able to hop on the internet. Another hiccup, and bigger. Repeat same scenario. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until there are no competitors left. So, say, fifty years from now, Google is the only one, just because they had the cash to buy out all others.
Now, if Google hiccups, there’s no other place to go. More hiccups? There’s no rush to get Google back up because there’s only Google to use and they can take their sweet time. Need to buy ad space? Google can charge whatever because they own all the ad space. SEO? Google can make the SEO algorithm do whatever because they control the algorithm. See where this is going?
And then if something catastrophic happens to Google, the internet becomes unusable for a vast majority and we’ll have to start from scratch. That’s going to cause a lot of problems. This is, absolutely, just a hypothetical. It can and does apply to a great many industries in the world, though. Just imagine if Amazon was the only book publisher in the world, and considering how things are going with Random House, it’s possible.
I guess this post might end up being fact more than fiction fifty years from now. In a world where it’s all monopolies, how bad can the failure of one really be? Something to chew on while worldbuilding. Could be a great final straw on a society’s camel.
Science in the pursuit of fiction.