How many millions of web sites are there on the Internet? How many do you visit regularly? How many websites do we need for each specific function?
When local newspapers were the only source of news they mattered a great deal to their communities. Television news and the Internet are competing them out of existence. But how many newspapers can survive in the world wide market of the web?
I love a mobile app called Zite. It’s like Pandora, but instead of rating music, it rates and shows me articles to read. Over time I’ve noticed that the number of different web sites it presents me is declining because I favor some sites over others. Even with seven billion viewers there should be a limit to the number of web sites that the Internet can support. Eventually we should see a shakeout.
Yesterday Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post. I use to read The Washington Post online, but I seldom do anymore. I’d rather read The New York Times, The LA Times or The Guardian. Did Bezos buy a white elephant? I used to watch CNN, and after I gave up cable I read its website, but I don’t anymore.
If I could remember them, I could list dozens, if not hundreds of websites that I once loved, but I’ve stopped reading. The world only needs so many famous restaurants franchises before there is too much choice. Famous news sources should shake out too. Who wants to check any encyclopedia except Wikipedia now? Or shop for books other than at Amazon?
If Americans were allowed to buy cable TV channels a la cart, how many channels would survive? If every newspaper and magazine goes behind a paywall, how many will survive? Why doesn’t IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes merge and then buy Flixster? Look what Amazon did by buying Audible.com and ABEBooks? Isn’t it logical that they bought Goodreads?
If you think about websites like one cell organisms living in an organic soup, we should be seeing them combined with each other to form new multicellular organisms, and eventually evolve into some very complex animals.
Competition is good, but it tends to be violent and kill off the weak. I’m not sure if the Internet will always be a boom town.
JWH – 8/6/13
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