These days—have you noticed?—it's not enough for companies in the digital economy to become behemoths astride the world. They've begun growing tentacles into each other. The idea is to combine complementary perks of two companies, adding value to your subscriptions. Making it less likely you'll choose a competitor.
That's why T-Mobile recently partnered with Netflix (T-Mobile subscribers get a free Netflix subscription), Netflix partnered with Comcast (you pay for Netflix as part of your Comcast bill), Amazon partnered with Best Buy to develop television sets (if you buy your TV at Best Buy, you get Amazon Fire technology built in), and Chevrolet partnered with Shell (you pay for gas at Shell stations with a few taps on your dashboard screen).
All good, right? Who doesn't like greater convenience and more free services?
Of course, there could be a darker side to this kind of conglomeration, too: many companies already collect insane amounts of data about you and your behavior, and the bigger the company, the more data it'll have.
But never mind all that. Merge-o-mania is under way, and nothing's going to stop it. We may as well get used to it. In fact, we may as well have some fun with it—by imagining some future ventures that at least hold some entertainment value.
Surely, it won't be long before we are reading about joint enterprises like these:
- Uber and Tinder team up to form Tunder. Swipe right if you see someone who's appealing enough to go for a drive with you!
- Ticket reseller StubHub and restaurant delivery service Grubhub finally enjoy their inevitable pairing. They bring you StubGrub: the digital marketplace for reselling takeout meals you ordered by mistake.
- Millions of people have used the free app Duolingo to gain skills in a new language; Fandango is the ultimate movie showtimes guide. Together these fine companies bring you Fandingo, the app for foreign-language films that explains what the heck is going on.
- Fitbit and Twitter are natural partners for creating FitBitter. Yes, now there's a discussion network just for people who channel their frustrations in life into obsessive workouts.
- It's Sirius XM Radio meets Apple's Siri voice-control assistant! Now you can subscribe to Siri XM, which misunderstands your spoken requests for more than 500 channels of sound.
- Crafter marketplace Etsy and Netflix join forces to bring you Netsyflix. For the first time, you can binge-watch season-long episodes of people crocheting smartphone cases.
- Subway and Grindr offer GrinderGrindr, the app that lets you meet an attractive partner for sharing a hero sandwich.
- From the makers of Spotify and Lyft, it's Spyft! With one tap, you can summon a driver who's put together a huge number of awesome playlists.
- YouTube and Uber find common ground in their new offering, YuberTube. Open the app and tap “Confirm Location”—and within minutes, a driver comes to you with a selection of music videos and adorable cat footage.
- What could be hotter than a collaboration between Tesla and Instagram? Meet TeslaGram: the premiere network for selfies of people posing with cars they can't afford.
- Amazon's Alexa voice assistant gets smarter every year. And Yelp's crowdsourced database of restaurant and other reviews continues to flourish. It's time, then, for Ayelpa, the home assistant that listens in as you gripe about the lousy meal you just had and automatically posts your complaint online to warn others.
- AT&T and Snapchat's new venture is called SnapchATT. Now middle schoolers will have an easy way to make really short phone calls that they instantly forget.
Okay, okay. In the real world, most of these ideas will never come to pass. But we can always dream, can't we?