Networks in the fluid phase…

…have a different dynamic. The plethora of choices in the prestandard phase gradually reduces to two or three. Allegiances are mobile, and drift over time. During this period, networks demand the strongest commitment to their survival. Participants have to feed the web of their choice first, and the narrowing of choices allows substantial investment to spur rapid growth. The effects of plentitude and increasing returns kick in–more breeds more. Feeding the web on any of several standards still produces gains for all participants. Yet it is inevitable that only one standard will ultimately prevail while the other ones fail. The uncertainty level is nearly as high as during the prestandard phase, but the risks for being wrong are greater. Anyone who remembers the demise of 8-track audiotapes will appreciate the perils of this painful stage. Today such networks as digital photographs and desktop operating systems are in this fluid phase: Several well-established standards vie for ultimate dominance. Choose wisely!



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