Ross Douthat shatters the Facebook illusion. The summary of his op-ed is that the social impact of the Internet far exceeds its commercial possibilities.
It’s telling, in this regard, that the companies most often cited as digital-era successes, Apple and Amazon, both have business models that are firmly rooted in the production and delivery of nonvirtual goods. Apple’s core competency is building better and more beautiful appliances; Amazon’s is delivering everything from appliances to DVDs to diapers more swiftly and cheaply to your door.
If Google parlays its Motorola Mobility acquisition into finally producing hardware, then perhaps they, too, realize the web’s limitations. Or perhaps our thinking is still entrenched in the old world way of doing business and have not yet evolved along with technology.
In any case, there is one industry that could greatly benefit from the web, but our government has so far suppressed it. And that’s gambling. Legalized online poker and sports betting would generate billions overnight and will provide welcomed tax revenues for cash-strapped state and city governments.