The internet may even pose a more precise analogy to “Clean-Tech” businesses than others insofar as the product is fundamentally important to us, and not merely a “want” which gives rise to consumption. In the case of the internet, the promise of the technology itself has more than been fulfilled, even if the promises of a great number of commercial concerns related to it have not.
The driving force in the internet, namely a shift in access to information and availability of information, is fundamentally so important to us as human beings that it has given rise to a new economics of “free” that is omnipresent in today’s internet companies.
This notion is evidently so powerful, that it has handily expedited the death of the “old” industries which simply charged for information.
Paradigm shifts lead to sincere changes in how a society interacts with a new technology, but as a pattern, leave few notable enterprises which capitalize directly off the technology. It may be proposed that there exists a relationship between the basic importance of the paradigm shift itself, and the ability of a capitalist concern to monetize it.
For example, computer memory, while conceptually unchanged, continuously undergoes a process of becoming more efficient (smaller size, greater capacity). Yet, naming a brand which has successfully monetized this constant evolution in the original technology itself is hard to do (e.g. how many consumers know the original equipment manufacturer of the hard drive in their computer?).
However, once computer memory became compact enough to give rise to such devices as “iPods” (large computer memory device; little or no other innovative technology to speak of), and consumers where ready to interact with a medium in new ways, than companies, such as Apple were able to capitalize of a consumer shift in behavior as opposed to the original technology that gave rise to it the possibility of its existence. In the current example, it is noteworthy that while the means of listening to music has changed and improved in quantity (along with greater consumption), little if any impact has been made on either the quality of the music itself or the simple human desire to enjoy it.
Image on the top from: it.northwestern.com
Chicago Tribune logo from from thresholdbrightfutures.wordpress.com
Ipod image from www.apple.com