Private networks are the new public networks?
The financial columnist Matt Levine (Money Stuff) has a number of recurring themes, one of which is "private markets are the new public markets." All of the interesting stuff in high finance has moved from heavily-regulated public companies to less-regulated but increasingly-popular private "deals."
So, maybe that will come to apply to the internet, too? I've been half-joking that Apple will eventually remove Safari from phones, because that's the natural end-point of "we're the company that keeps your family safe -- here in our app store." Safari is the porn-brought-to-you-by-Comcast/Cox/Verizon/etc. escape hatch from the app store.
But you could keep Safari around if you decide to ditch the internet. A new walled garden of safe websites. Bloggers must apply for admission. Goofy projects not allowed. All commerce mediated by Apple.
They'd need more physical networking though, I think, if they wanted to truly avoid certain state and federal regulation. They could buy a big ISP and... disconnect it? from the open web? I'm just spitballing here. Cripes, go all out, buy Comcast -- NBC/Universal content goes into TV+, and the Comcast physical plant becomes their global private distribution network?
What if that private equity group saw this coming? And that's why they bought AOL? Its ancient criticism of being a "walled garden" or "internet training wheels" might be the seed of its rebirth. For more hot take analysis follow AOL KEYWORD: RICH-TEXT-DOT-NET!
(To the extent that anyone thinks I'm being serious... I also have been waiting for a grassroots/local/pirate AM-radio revival. I might not have any fingers on any pulses. But you never know!)