Googlezon is redefining the internet as a tiered service, like cable. And this new thing called the public internet is the lowest tier. Kind of like network television is the lowest tier in your television service options. From here on out, you will start to see the internet equivalent of cable service online: For an extra ten dollars, you can get the “movie lovers” package, where your ISP privileges Netflix and Hulu traffic, giving them to you super-fast. For another ten dollars, you can get the “concerned parent” package, which blocks peer-to-peer traffic as well as websites that they consider to be pornographic. And so on.
In their proposal, they say that it’s perfectly OK for companies and consumers to buy non-neutral, non-public “special services” online. If you’re a media company that streams videogames, for example, your customers want a guarantee that the game won’t stall out because of a crappy “public internet” connection. So you make your game available only to people with the special service “gamer package.” Your customers pay you; you pay Googlezon; now there’s a superfast connection for the privileged few with money to burn.
And what happens when news websites start delivering their pretty pictures and infographics in 3D? Verizon has already suggested 3D is a perfect “special service” to deliver in a non-neutral way. In five years, the public internet is going to look boring and obsolete. Where’s the 3D? Where are all the cool games and streaming viddies? The public internet? Yeah, that’s just for poor people.
But guess what’s going to remain on the public net, the place where you go when you don’t have money? Certainly there will be educational resources like Wikipedia. But mostly it’s going to be advertisement-saturated free content from major entertainment companies. And of course there will be many opportunities to give your personal information to Facebook, or gamble away your non-existent savings on Zynga games. (Sorry – did I say gamble? I meant “pay for premium poker game content.”) Put in brick-and-mortar terms: There won’t be any produce markets on the public internet, but there will be plenty of liquor stores.