The towering market of the future: Anonymity

As companies focus more of their business on targeted marketing, anonymity will become a luxury that people will pay for.

We pay for all sorts of things that once were free. Drinking water and TV are two that come to mind. As I was walking to lunch today, I was thinking about the great markets of the future. I came up with anonymity.

Increasingly, companies are making money through their knowledge of us. They're going to great lengths to learn what we buy, where we shop and pray, what ailments we've had, what movies we like. And they're barely scratching the service. The growth of wireless promises to provide our whereabouts and lots of local detail. In the future, I'm betting that companies will offer us all kinds of free services (like Gmail) if we agree to provide them our information, carry their advertisements, and receive their focused pitches. And if we don't feel like participating? If we want to be anonymous? That will be a luxury, like bottled water, and I'm betting we'll pay dearly for it.

Some of the proceeds will go straight to the companies that sell us enhanced, anonymous services. Other companies will make money by defending our privacy, much the way spam-filters do today.

Do you agree that anonymity is a huge growth market? If so, which companies are best positioned to cash in on it?

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