To Make Omelets, One Must Break a Few Eggs

“Sustainability” is a bigger issue than many suppose. It is easy to decry a “commercialized” Internet, or marketplace advantages enjoyed by some firms and not all.

But valuable products and services are not produced, on the Internet, or elsewhere, without a sustainable resource model.

Innovation--creation of new apps, products and services--requires discovery of sustainable resource models.

It is one thing to bemoan commercialization. But the alternative--losing important apps, products and services--arguably is quite worse. “Commercialization” is just another way of saying a firm has found what it hopes is a “sustainability model.”

It is an odd sort of logic that sees a profusion of new apps and services as somehow diminishing the value of the Internet. To be sure, the Internet has, in a real sense, become “balkanized.” Sometimes that is by government edict.

But more often than that, people are simply making choices. They decide which apps, services and communities make sense, and then participate in those subsets of “everything” that is available on the Internet.

“Choice” is not a bug. But people intentionally make choices that effectively “narrow” their use of Internet apps and services.

That is the flip side of choice. It sometimes is argued that sustainability prevents choice.

In other words, sponsored data favors firms able to pay, which will eventually lead to smaller firms losing the ability to compete.

One might make the argument in reverse. Some firms have gained leadership in their markets because they have done a better job producing products and services people actually want.

They have “unfair” market positions because people prefer their products. That is supposed to happen. It is how consumers express their preferences.

Providing quality of service enhancements, or any number of other enhancements, is far easier for a successful firm, with lots of revenue, than for all other contenders. So long as those firms operate lawfully, and so long as markets are not overly-concentrated, that is the way much innovation spreads widely.

Only a big, powerful firm such as Apple could have revolutionized the relationship between mobile service providers and device suppliers. Only a big, powerful firm such as Google could have disrupted the U.S. Internet access market.
Some might decry “commercialization” in the same way all of us have, at one time or another, bemoaned advertising.

But sustainability requires a dependable source of inputs. All organizations require inputs.

The notion consumers and citizens are somehow worse off because new products have sustainable resource models is questionable, if not worse.

Sustainability and choice require resource models, period.

Some condemn “profits” without recognizing that every organization required inputs and resources to keep doing what they do. But a resource model is essential, whether that is grants, donations, tax revenues, profits or volunteer labor.


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