Controlling demand demands a big shift

In the last three weeks, Ben Thompson has been hammering away his point about the past advantages of controlling supply and the future advantages of those who control demand, e.g. Facebook, Google. Not since reading Stratechery or listening to Exponent on a regular basis have I considered this shift in focus.

Just a few days ago, I read this from John Gruber, citing an article from The Hong Kong Free Press:

The US-based global tech giant Apple Inc. is set to hand over the operation of its iCloud data center in mainland China to a local corporation called Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD) by February 28, 2018. When this transition happens, the local company will become responsible for handling the legal and financial relationship between Apple and China’s iCloud users. After the transition takes place, the role of Apple will restricted to an investment of US one billion dollars, for the construction of a data center in Guiyang, and for providing technical support to the center, in the interest of preserving data security…

When we talk about Google or Facebook controlling demand, what happens when that is an entire government? Is this what being a competitive country will mean for the 21st century? Is this ultimately a fight between open and closed society?

Gruber finishes his commentary with:

…I don’t know what Apple could do other than pull out of the Chinese market entirely.

This sentiment echoes those who feel compelled to advertise on Google, publishers who provide content or parish, and those who do not delete our accounts for the fear missing out. We either play by their rules or go home and most of us are unwilling to go home.