Posted by: Michael Hennessy | November 20, 2005

RE: The towering market of the future: Anonymity

Interesting thought here….I totally agree that anonymity is becoming something that as web-surfers we will need to really start thinking about. If the Google model continues to flourish, their will be more and more demand for finding out who you are to better tailor those custom ads, which in the end drive the bottom line…money. I think till this point, and even continuing now, the next generation of kids, and even us, EXPECT things to be free…and when a company asks us if they can learn more about us to “optimize the experience”, we are all too eager to do so. And, to be honest, I think that trend WILL continue…until the day that it hurts to do so. For example, I’m a technology person who says “yes, here’s my info…make it a better experience for free”…and I would continue to do so, as long as I don’t see any negative side-effects. And right now I don’t.

BUT, in this changing world, I think people WILL begin to see side-effects, they will be in situations that maybe a company knows more about them then the would like. And once that happens, I agree that the market for anonymity will start to climb…and quickly. My question to you. What would cause the “tipping point” of people afraid or just really concerned about companies like Google having more and more info on how you surf the web?? If you wanted to “shoot ahead of the duck”…getting into the anonymity business may be a great business idea!

We pay for all sorts of things that once were free. Drinking water and TV are two that come to mind. As I was walking to lunch today, I was thinking about the great markets of the future. I came up with anonymity.

Increasingly, companies are making money through their knowledge of us. They’re going to great lengths to learn what we buy, where we shop and pray, what ailments we’ve had, what movies we like. And they’re barely scratching the service. The growth of wireless promises to provide our whereabouts and lots of local detail. In the future, I’m betting that companies will offer us all kinds of free services (like Gmail) if we agree to provide them our information, carry their advertisements, and receive their focused pitches. And if we don’t feel like participating? If we want to be anonymous? That will be a luxury, like bottled water, and I’m betting we’ll pay dearly for it.

Some of the proceeds will go straight to the companies that sell us enhanced, anonymous services. Other companies will make money by defending our privacy, much the way spam-filters do today.

Do you agree that anonymity is a huge growth market? If so, which companies are best positioned to cash in on it?

[Via BusinessWeek Online – Blogspotting]

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