The Economist: The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data

[Editor Charlie sez: This post is an oldie but a goodie. It’s a topic that doesn’t get talked about anywhere near as much as it should. It’s particularly relevant to the TikTok and WeChat situation–the reason that the Chinese government is so interested in scraping data from these apps is the same reason that they build smart cities on the Belt & Road, and it’s the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks. Because that’s where the money is. You could say that the Chinese government intends to become the Saudi Arabia of data and you wouldn’t be wrong. If Facebook hasn’t already beat them to it. And remember–we all gave all of them the data for free.]

A NEW commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

Read the post on The Economist (registration required)