A small number of major companies may further concentrate their power by absorbing potential threats or new opportunities. The reach and resources of Internet platforms mean that start-ups will be acquired in their infancy, before they can disrupt the bigger players. Will the idea of permissionless innovation and the notion that anyone can start the new “Google” still be realistic, are the broad questions addressed by The Internet Society 2017 report- Paths to our Digital Future.
That said, innovation and new services on the Internet often develop and move faster than anyone can predict. Economic growth and business opportunity will increasingly depend on a dynamic and innovative Internet, which, in turn, will depend on open interoperable standards and permissionless innovation. This demand for continuous innovation by industry, users and even government may mean that even today’s large Internet platforms will face fierce competition from emerging players, including those outside the traditional ICT sector.
A new generation of entrepreneurs coming online from emerging countries has the opportunity to use technology to solve local problems, reach global markets and drive innovation. As more people benefit from coming online in the next five to ten years, the opportunities and funding for entrepreneurs and start-ups will grow locally and globally. Start-ups will be able to scale more quickly, accelerating past the traditional path of company growth. And as Internet growth shifts from the historically strong digital economies in North America and Europe to emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa, new innovation leaders and technology hubs will emerge. These new entrepreneurs should play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the Internet economy.
The question is if smaller entrepreneurs are going to be able to compete, or get caught up in an uncertain environment of investment and competition from big conglomerates?