We have been writing about competition issues around big data since 2014 (though I could claim 1991). Now the New York Times weighs in.
The competition concerns echo those that gradually emerged in the 1990s about software and Microsoft. The worry is that as the big internet companies attract more users and advertisers, and gather more data, a powerful “network effect” effectively prevents users and advertisers from moving away from a dominant digital platform, like Google in search or Facebook in consumer social networks.
Evidence of the rising importance of data can be seen from the frontiers of artificial intelligence to mainstream business software. And certain data sets can be remarkably valuable for companies working on those technologies.
A prime example is Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn, the business social network, for $26.2 billion last year. LinkedIn has about 467 million members, and it houses their profiles and maps their connections.
Microsoft is betting LinkedIn, combined with data on how hundreds of millions of workers use its Office 365 online software, and consumer data from search behavior on Bing, will “power a set of insights that we think is unprecedented,” said James Phillips, vice president for business applications at Microsoft.