Possibilities include monetizing users’ behaviour, or more nefariously, once a platform is dominant, abuse its position to make other people pay up if they want to do business with your users (or simply reach them). This is called rent-seeking.
European investors specifically are much more interested in traditional business plans than US venture capitalists. “Data is the new oil” does not translate well into German, French or Spanish.
In addition, with the GDPR, NIS (2) Directive & other regulations, data in Europe is definitely more “the new toxic waste”. It is in any case not a business plan.
It is a classical quandary over what defines “innovation”. US software and Chinese hardware is a broad generalisation. China has understood the importance of weaponisation of data and therefore usurps everything which runs on it’s mobile phones (subsidised by the state funding) and running American software (Android-developed by Google). Notably, Android has veered far away from it’s open source roots and shifted it’s focus on Google’s proprietary surveillance technology.
EU has the best privacy protections for users, but the options outlined in the write up to spur “browser/email/chat” are non-starters. They are commoditised. Mozilla tried to do something with Cliq (I am not sure what happened to the kiss of death), and there is no pan-European search engine – one that’s estimated to be around $150 billion, with Google owning more than 90% of the pie.
Here’s something interesting:
Around 2007, telecommunications companies made one last attempt to take this standards based world to the Internet. The functionalities now delivered by WhatsApp, WeChat, iMessage etc were packaged up in the “Rich Communication Services” protocol suite, also known as Joyn. When launched in 2007 however, such standardised communications turned out not to be competitive with free services (for many reasons, including regulatory). So all communications are now on proprietary or exclusionary platforms – it is for example getting hard to deliver email from your own mail infrastructure without ending up in a spam folder over at Gmail.
Far reaching collaboration on “standards” is difficult to achieve due to entrenched legacy systems. WhatsApp grew out of virality by harvesting details around phone numbers and now has a unique insight into how relationships between individuals translates on a global scale- giving them enough leverage on weaponisation of data (and emotional triggers). They store massive troves of data to understand and fine tune algorithms under the false pretext of end-to-end encryption and launching shadow wars with governments around the world.
I use Threema, a Swiss based chat application. It is a paid app and despite my earlier attempts to get them to understand unique needs for healthcare, their development proceeds at glacial pace. The only viable outreach about their engagement is through Twitter, and they have a terrible UI that’s aged and dated for 2021 (as of writing this). Despite the “security protocols” and outdated tech, they rely on the one-time payment. Is it value for money? Possibly. No amount of coaxing or reaching out helped because they refuse to engage with the passionate users of the community.
It isn’t reflective of the collective mindset, but merely an example.
The author offers an insight:
There is definitely enough money to author things like a web browser, chat, email and video conferencing facilities. This would only require the equivalent of a few days of Corona recovery fund money. It will still cost real money though – we don’t need “government-grade” or typical clunky open source software, we need very compelling apps and services that can compete on quality.
A german version of “Chrome”? How will they get to install it on the desktops (Windows) where Edge is struggling? I get repeated reminders for using Edge as the default browser (it isn’t) because I use Vivaldi. They had to kiss Google’s posterior because enterprises don’t like surprises for the redundant proprietary technology they use to make their intranets work (for example). Good luck for EU.