lunes, 23 de febrero de 2009

Paparazzi de nuestra propia vida

En el último número de la Revista Debate se publicó un artículo que escribí sobre Facebook y el peligro de la exhibición de nuestro mundo privado. Paradójicamente o no, en estos tiempos de duda existencial sobre el futuro de los medios y de cómo cobrar los contenidos online, se puede leer la nota completa aquí, gratis:

lunes, 16 de febrero de 2009

Errar no es humano

Mercado Web publica un artículo que escribí sobre Google News, uno de los servicios más conflictivos de la empresa siglo XXI. Leer aquí.

martes, 10 de febrero de 2009


Since the Web’s evolution and its definitive opening up to a much broader public - the famous 2.0 – literally millions of blogs have appeared and this gigantic network has converted itself, apparently, into a global offering that provides unlimited access for the common good.

Since then much has been said about the democratizing merits of the Web and its virtues as a tool in promoting free trade, access to the largest markets irrespective of the country of origin. Any person or business for an extremely low, or even zero cost, could access the largest global market in the history of mankind.

Now that the emotion and the novelty has passed, if one stops to examine the economic realities, the Web is no longer perceived with such enthusiasm by those who once believed and dreamt about its merits as a socioeconomic equalizer.

Economic concentration in the preWeb world has been accentuated dramatically following the birth of this new era. Internet has promoted and fostered the creation of oligopolies, even stronger and more quickly constituted than those already known in the offline universe.
There is no company or business that has had a geographic expansion as speedy as that shown by dozens of online businesses.

Coca-Cola, created by John Pemberton in May 1886 set foot in Asia for the first time seventy years later; it was in 1954 under the name of “Ko-kou-ko-le chapo” (happiness in the mouth). Google in just 10 years from its inception is already one of the five most visited websites in every country in the World and sells advertising space (or in other words, carries out its business) in each and every one of them. It is calculated that in 2009 Google will dominate 50% of the total advertising investment in Internet.

It is sufficient to just compare several traditional businesses with their equivalents in Internet to notice the differences in time and form required to establish them as leaders.

In every country there are on average three companies dedicated to postal services, in addition to subsidiaries or smaller regional competitors. However just three e-mail providers (Google, MSN and Yahoo) practically dominate the total distribution of e-mails worldwide.

In the retail market the differences are even more notable. Around the world traditional shopping centers or malls have multiplied. In a large city like Buenos Aires more than eight shopping centers co-exist. Meanwhile, the online shopping portal Mercado Libre, concentrates more than 50% of the total online buying and selling transactions across Argentina., one of the World’s largest e-commerce sites has been in business since 1995. While they provide only minimal information about their activities, according to various sources it concentrates the lion’s share of the market for buying and selling books in the USA. The site receives more than 50 million visitors per month according to reports by

In the telecommunications field something similar occurs. It is practically impossible to calculate the number of businesses that provide traditional telephone services while in Internet the calculation is much simpler. Instant Messaging services for example, close relatives to the offline telephone are very few and highly popular. Once again, the services of MSN (pioneer in the subject excepting the juvenile ICQ), Google and Yahoo webopolize the business. IP telephony with Skype as its principal model is also a market dominated by just a few very big players.

The gaming business is not exempt. Also in betting Internet concentrates large and powerful sites.

In the online search industry, without possibility of direct comparison in the physical world, Google represents 63.1% of the world market, Yahoo 20.5% and Microsoft’s sites 8.5% according to MarketingCharts.

Almost all the world’s newspapers offer their own classifieds section. With more than a century of experience, in their immense majority, their reach is limited to just a single country. In every country, dozens even hundreds of different media dedicate thousands of pages to the sale of space for the buying and selling of products and services. On the other hand, created in 2006 has already reached more than 40 countries with its service. In the USA, Ebay concentrates 64% of the total visitors to e-commerce sites dedicated to the purchase and sale of vehicles, followed by with 10% according to ComScore.

While on every point on the globe a small televisión channel exists, and every country has three or four own channels, You Tube is a World leader in the visualization of video online with a 40% share of market. In second place is the conglomerate Fox Interactive Media with 3.8%.

In addition to the global logic that is a defining characteristic of the Web and that allows for the same cost the delivery of a message either to Tokyo or just around the block, the economic model demands the constitution of big players. Why is this? Currently the reigning economic model of the majority of online businesses is often free of charge. A service is placed at the disposition of its users totally free of any cost and this interaction (the use of the service) is subsidized by the advertising message of a third party. The larger the number of users of the service, the greater the advertising and as a result the revenues generated. As no direct payment for the service exists those providing the service are obliged to capture large masses of users so that their business make economic sense.

Undoubtedly many services would not be feasible, based on their huge operating costs, if it were not for the millions of people actively using them. To take an example an e-mail service like Gmail could not exist if it were utilized by only 200 users.

In 2004 the American journalist Chris Anderson coined the phrase – The Long Tail – to explain how Internet and the digital environment had changed the rules of the market. The long tail made up of millions of small competitors, in reality hides the disadvantages of a model that tends to concentrate the power in only a few.

The big, ever bigger. The many small, ever smaller.

By Pablo Capurro