With news of Sony Corporation buying OnLive, the game streaming service, and its SL Go service being dropped almost immediately after being acquired, it comes to mind that we are moving more and more towards a monopoly society.
Big companies, especially the biggest, are getting labeled as “innovative” and I wonder, do people even know what that word means anymore? To me, it doesn’t mean being a sorting office for ideas poached by snapping up smaller companies – paying off, streamlining (ie, cutting jobs) and sitting on the ideas, then feeding them out to the public one at a time in a controlled way to make maximum profit. The big company then says, “Look at us! We employ lots of people and give a token gesture to charity or the environment, ain’t we good!”
It is supposedly a ‘success story’ when a small company, like a headphone maker for example, gets the attention of a big corporation and gets swallowed up for some huge amount of money. It’s a success for the owner of said company, a big wedge in their account or in their shareholders’ accounts. For the employees and for the future of innovation and diversity, it doesn’t seem such a success story. It’s a governor on innovation, making sure upstarts don’t come along and steal slices of the pie from the so-called established innovators.
Loss of diversity is a common term in environmental issues, but it’s not just in the environment that it is lost. As jungles of fauna and flora are wiped out to make way for palm oil plantations or tin mines, so are ideas and innovation going the same way: formal, controlled, yielding maximum profit for the few to sell to the many.
This isn’t only happening in the technology market. Anywhere brands are bought out, then changed to fit the buyers’ needs, you can see this trend. We go to our supermarkets, with hundreds of brands on the shelves, but upon a closer look, you will see that these many brands are owned by a handful of companies, mainly from a few select countries. And we wonder, why are there only a few rich and so many poor in the world? Why are only a few countries so much better off than the rest? Maybe a few pounds to charity would help, or maybe we are looking at the bigger problems of the world the wrong way round.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Images of the Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Tower of Babel” are derived from “Pieter Bruegel the Elder – The Tower of Babel (Vienna) – Google Art Project – edited” by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) – Levels adjusted from File:Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg, originally from Google Art Project.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project_-_edited.jpg#/media/File:Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project_-_edited.jpg