A short one this week while I put together the first AestOS post. A while ago I wrote about why Google should become and telecom and today I expand on that idea.
Microsoft, Apple and Google all have different business models. Microsoft is primarily a software company, but they are selling more and more hardware. Apple is all about selling hardware. Google is all about selling you ads. These are gross simplifications of their businesses but they are fundamentally true. Anything else a company does is designed to support these models. For example, Google doesn’t make, and then give away, Android because it wants to get you to buy a phone. It wants to use it to gather data about you and put ads in front of you. Apple makes software to delight the user and add value to their hardware. Microsoft built the Surface as a guiding light for the companies licensing Windows. With all that said, there is something absolutely critical to all of these companies: the Internet. The Internet is the life blood of the entire industry, without it we step back a decade. Most of us literally wouldn’t be able to install software on our devices with out it. That is why these companies should team up to buy/become an Internet Service Provider, or ISP. (Google is already starting to do this with Google Fibre and Google Fi.)
Why do they need to do this? Internet is expensive and slow in North America. This is holding back what these three companies can do. Imagine if everyone had a smart phone/computer connected to a fast network. All of these companies could create or implement new technologies that don’t work on our slow connections. It would make all of their services better by loading almost anything instantly. Cloud computing, cloud back ups and streaming would become much more viable for more people and technologies we haven’t even thought of yet would become possible.
The issue with providing mobile internet in North America is the size of our countries. Europe doesn’t have the spacing issue because they are all crammed together but in Canada we have provinces bigger than European countries. (With not a lot of people) This requires a lot of infrastructure to cover everything and that is expensive. An ISP owned by Microsoft, Apple and Google would build the infrastructure not for the profit of providing internet but for the benefits their services get from everyone having fast, cheap internet.
This would be a catalyst to make other ISPs improve their service. We see it wherever Google Fibre goes to another market. The ISPs in the are all cut their prices and raise their speeds.
Disrupting An Industry
The problem with this idea is that it might put the other ISPs out of business, or make them lay off a bunch of people. The reason being that these three companies wouldn’t be in the business of selling you internet, it just adds benefit to their platforms. So they would charge as little as possible, maybe even subsidizing the cost a little bit. At that point the other ISPs, who make money from selling access to the internet, wouldn’t have a sustainable model. As much as I hate the current ISPs, they employ quite a large number of people.
The ISPs we currently have are also fighting against Net Neutrality. A hugely important aspect of the internet that allows anyone to create something amazing and show it to the world. This conglomerate could pledge to remain Net Neutral no matter what our governments rule on the issue.
When you have an industry that fights innovation at every step, the ISP’s, the rich innovators should push back. Apple, Google and Microsoft all enrich our lives but as we move to a cloud and mobile future a lot rests on our ISPs. I think the choice is clear, wait for years while the ISPs are dragged kicking and screaming into offering a faster, cheaper and open service or have these companies join together and speed up progress.