Digital Giants Clash in 2017 – Who Will Be Left Standing?

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We’ve all seen the LUMAscapes that help map the various ecosystems that exist within channels and between partners. Every update gets harder and harder to read as more logos and areas of focus get added.  Those that believe increased competition is a good thing are happy with this continuing trend, but there are also those who wish it were simpler to access the different partner and technology platforms and data overlays.  The apparent trend for 2017 is going to make those people happy, as many digital companies will be taking that simpler approach.  The following are just a few companies to keep an eye on as we move into a new era of consolidation and unexpected partnerships.

Digital Winners and Losers for 2017 

Winners Losers 2017

Who’s Going to Win the Internet?

You may have expected Google to be the answer and sure, they are a significant player. However, companies like Verizon and AT&T have been laying the groundwork over the past couple years to position themselves to be the ultimate winners here. 

Verizon purchased AOL in June 2015 and are poised to pick-up Yahoo! later this year, assuming they can get past the data breach issues.  This means that Verizon will not only control the actual hardware that brings Internet to your home in the form of Verizon Fios, but they will also be the owners of top websites such as Yahoo! MailTumblr, The Huffington PostEngadget.  Pair that with the fact that Verizon is still the largest wireless service provider, boasting about 143M subscribers as of July 2016, and it’s easy to see how they are leading this movement.  Verizon not only controls the content pipes to your computer and mobile phones, they are also driving the creation of that content and quickly gathering a ton of data on you, me, and the world! 

I’m sure that Comcast sees this coming, but as of now they don’t have the wireless component, and it will take them a significant amount of time and money to catch up. And don’t count AT&T out yet!   They have also been building their empire with the acquisition of DirecTV in July 2015 and Time Warner in October 2016. 

So who’s going to win?  Based on what I have seen to-date, in terms of service and product offerings, Verizon has a leg-up on the competition and will pull ahead in 2017.  However, given how cutthroat this category of players is, Verizon will need to work hard to sustain that lead, especially as companies such as T-Mobile start considering their next move or merger in this space.

How many social networks do you use?

Admittedly, Snapchat has hit the social network scene like Kanye at an awards show, but they still have some catching up to do when it comes to monetization, data and analytics.  The good news is that Facebook has been paving the way for them and social networks to comeTwitter can claim.  Incidentally, YouTube doesn’t count here since they are owned by Google and have all the benefits of that infrastructure, including Google Adwords, to support that platform from an advertising revenue standpoint.

In my opinion, there is room for everyone.  It is up to the networks themselves to continue to listen to their users – no reason for them to not continue playing to their strengths.  Twitter has already moved beyond their 140 characters, and Facebook Live has slowly started getting into the content game.  With Facebook’s purchase of Oculus, you can bet they are working on unique content that can only be consumed via Facebook. Additionally, Facebook Messenger continues to increase in popularity, boasting 1 billion active monthly users earlier this year.  Facebook will continue to be the leader in social, but with great power comes great responsibility.  Considering the recent snafus reporting fake election news, they will need to be careful how they choose to wield their power.

What did I do before Google?

We cannot talk about digital giants and not talk about Google, right?  It’s hard to remember that Google is not a public service, since it often feels that way.  They have mastered the paid and organic search, and they own all the videos on YouTube, so where should they go next?  They failed with Google+, but they won with Google Hangouts.  However, their more recent moves have pulled them out of the purely digital space – and in complete opposition to the trajectory of Verizon & AT&T – have moved them into hardware!

This fall they released their full Made by GoogleApple may  decide to get in on it as well. No predictions yet on how this will play out, since I think we’ll have to wait another year or two to see how the players and the regulators come together on the development of this particular technology.

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