And our social graphs are locked in Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
Breakout companies become much harder and this isn’t likely to improve unless we give new companies the tools and capital they need to flourish.
In many ways this system now mirrors the “decks” or “portals” that mobile phone companies used to control mobile app distribution 20 years ago.
Distribution of media is also now tightly controlled by You Tube, Netflix, Facebook, Amazon and a handful of others that have huge scale advantages.
For example, you need to know if a transaction was completed, you need to know the parties involved, you need to ensure that they actually own the money that they are transferring and that they haven’t previously pledged it to somebody else.
And you need a means of auditing transactions so that they are verifiable.
This market structure in which the few, large players use their market position to eliminate competition is inevitable and it’s hard to blame large companies or countries who want to protect their advantages. When you achieve economies-of-scale advantages it doesn’t benefit you to help newer companies draft off of your infrastructure to rise and compete against you.
And while many of the people bringing you the great applications and infrastructure you now rely on are benevolent, there is of course a normal incentive for these companies to use their scale advantages to continue to dominate the markets they’re in, making it harder for upstarts to compete.
This is what the “blockchain” you keep reading about provides.