In my blog post State of the Internet Operating System a few months ago (and the followup Handicapping the Internet Platform Wars), I used the analogy of “the Great Game” played out between England and Russia in the late Victorian era for control of access to India through what is now Afghanistan. In our planning for this year’s Web 2.0 Summit, John Battelle and I have expanded on this metaphor, exploring the many ways that Internet companies at all levels of the stack are looking for points of control that will give them competitive advantage in the years to come.
Now, John has developed that idea even further, with a super-cool interactive map that shows the Internet platform wars in a kind of fantasy landscape, highlighting each of the players and some of the moves they might make against each other. Click on the link at the top of the image below to get to the full interactive version. You might also want to read John Battelle’s description of the points of control map and how to use it.
Some of the battlegrounds are already clear, as Google has entered the phone hardware market to match Apple’s early lead, while Apple is ramping up its presence in advertising and location-based services to try to catch up to Google. Meanwhile, Facebook adds features to compete with Twitter and Foursquare, Google (and everyone else) keeps trying to find the magic bullet for social networking, and tries to eat Yelp’s lunch with Place Pages, Microsoft gains share in search and tries again to become a player in the phone market. Areas like social gaming, payment, speech and image recognition, location services, advertising, tablets and other new form factors for connected devices, are all rife with new startups, potential acquisition plays, and straight-up competition.
In the map, we’ve tried to highlight some of the possible competitive vectors. I’m sure you’ll have other ideas about companies, possible lines of attack, and possible alliances. We hope to hear your feedback, and we hope to see you at the Web 2.0 Summit, where we’ll be talking with many of the key players, and handicapping the next stage of the Great Game.