From the beginning of time, large entities have shaped our view of the world and controlled information that we receive. Media play a huge role in how we view the world. Newspaper, radio, and television offered a portal to view worldwide events. The writers and producers controlled the way the viewers hear and see the world. With this power, media can shape the public opinion.
Many saw the power behind the Internet and its capabilities of becoming the most powerful network in the world. With its control comes great influential power. AOL Time Warner, Apple and Google wanted control of the medium. The question became how the Internet can be controlled most efficiently. AOL Time Warner attempted to influence subscribers and the media placed on the Internet. Apple tried another route by controlling the devices that subscribers used to surf the Internet. Google’s approach consisted of controlling the master switch.
Lessons can be learned from each entity. AOL Time Warner had a great start up plan by offering x number of hours free to surf the net. The free CDs in the mail not only popularized the AOL name, but enticed users to remain with the company after the free hours expired. This loss leader approach to economics proved very influential and at the time allowed AOL to rise to the top (Anderson, 2010).
Apple’s launch of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has revolutionized the shape of the Internet and how it’s used. The devices have also altered the music, video, and phone culture throughout the world. Now with powerful devices inhand, users can download albums, videos, and software from the Internet like never before experienced. Apple doesn’t control the Internet per se, but they do control how they surf. For instance, the Apple devices do not allow flash to play on any sites. This has caused adobe to stop developing the flash player for mobile devices (Winokur,2011).
Google controls which sites we view. Google has the power to blacklist and whitelist sites that appear in their search engine. Moreover, Google can bump sites up higher on the list of results through monetary gifts from the site's webmaster. Google can shape our opinion and view of the world by allowing only certain sites through their search engine. Google is also collecting more and more information behind each user through all of their services from google docs to gmail.
Each entity took a different approach to controlling the Internet and each succeeded to some extent. The way we connect to the Internet, use devices to surf the net, and the content we view on the net have been greatly influenced by these three entities. The best lesson that these three companies have taught us is understand what you are doing. Notice every decision we make has a consequence. There will always be pluses and minuses in everything we do. AOL was a great way to connect to the Internet, but they tried to limit the reaches of the Internet. Apple devices are excellent devices, but they do limit your viewing capabilities. Finally, Google is a great search engine, but there are also other engines that provide good services.
Anderson, C. (2010). Free: How today's smartest business profit by giving something for nothing. New York, NY: Hyperion.
Winokur, D. (2011). Flash to focus on PC browsing and mobile apps; Adobe to more aggressively contribute to HTML5. Retrieved at http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2011/11/flash-focus.html on February 17, 2011.
Wu, T. (2011). The master switch: The rise and fall of information empires. New York, NY: Knopf.