Don’t Believe the E-Hype
| Peter Klein |
Overhype about the emerging markets is good clean fun when confined to mindless text-messaging. There is an undeniable “wow” factor. But there is also a madness to the e-crowd. Whenever a trend is spotted that captures the fancy of the zeitgeist, it is formulated as a linear trajectory, and shot into orbit. All cross traffic is banned. Call it “asymmetric triumphalism.”
“Open” networks have evolved, and Time dutifully touts the success of Linux -– the open-source operating system mocked by Microsoft critics during the company’s US antitrust trial but now heralded as a bona fide competitive rival.
But iPod/iTunes is a proprietary platform that has magically restored order to the music download business while creating the iconic consumer electronics product of the 21st Century. Similarly, electronic games are driving explosive growth in entertainment software and broadband markets, riding on the backs of three consoles that are “open” only to the software licensed by their makers — Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo.
The point is not that “closed” beats “open,” but that capitalism accommodates both.
My former colleague George Selgin, known for his dry sense of humor, used to say that a lot of thinking and writing on e-commerce, e-learning, e-etc. could be summarized in one word: “e-gnorance.”