FROM OUR OBSESSION
Looking at Big Tech as the next Big Oil.
Some products become a lot more valuable when you are forced to sit at home all day due to a pandemic. A serendipitous study of consumers in the UK tells us exactly which ones.
From Feb. 27 to March 3, 2020, the economists Diane Coyle and David Nguyen conducted a survey of over 10,000 adults in the UK asking about how often they used 30 products and services—and how much they valued them. Their research was part of a recent effort by economists to understand how people value “free” experiences, from internet services like WhatsApp, Wikipedia, and Google Maps to public goods like parks, and how the emergence of free online products may distort measures of economic output, like GDP.
Little did the researchers know that the Covid-19 pandemic was just about to hit the UK hard. On the day they finished their survey, there were just 40 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. Just two months later there would be over 180,000.