Break up Facebook (and while we’re at it, Google, Apple and Amazon) – The Guardian

It is time to use antitrust again. We should break up the hi-tech behemoths, or at least require they make their proprietary technology and data publicly available and share their platforms with smaller competitors.

Robert Reich is right; there are companies that have far too much influence, and they need to be broken up. Google and Facebook are dangerous for democracy, and dominate online advertising, and Amazon is dangerous for retail.

Facebook and Google dominate advertising. They’re the first stops for many Americans seeking news. Apple dominates smartphones and laptop computers. Amazon is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything.

However, Mr. Reich is wrong; Apple does not dominate smartphones and laptops, at least not in the entire world. They are first in the US, but with around 40%; that’s not anti-trust level domination. Worldwide, however, Apple’s market share is around 12%, and Samsung is in the lead at around 20%. Apple does dominate the high end of the smartphone sector though.

As much as I use Amazon for practicality – I live in a rural area near a town of around 25,000 people, so local shopping opportunities are limited – I do understand that they are killing off retail.

In the second Gilded Age as in the first, giant firms at the center of the American economy are distorting the market and our politics.

We must resurrect antitrust.

Yep.

It’s worth noting that Tim Cook recently said in an interview that regulation of these firms will be necessary; he knows it is coming, and is planning for it, whereas Facebook and Google are just playing coy and fighting it. Apple will come out well with this approach.

Source: Break up Facebook (and while we’re at it, Google, Apple and Amazon) | Opinion | The Guardian

5 thoughts on “Break up Facebook (and while we’re at it, Google, Apple and Amazon) – The Guardian

  1. A good start would be to simply prevent all of them from acquiring other companies. Nearly every innovative ideas and company over the past many years has been acquired. Facebook should not have been allowed to acquire instagram, parse, whatsapp, and so on. The same holds for most of the others too. These companies simply buy up any potential competition before those companies can grow enough to be real competition.

    It’s also interesting that Reich left out Microsoft. That speaks to how little most people know about Microsoft’s absolute dominance in the business cloud with Office-365 and, increasingly, Azure. Microsoft and Amazon pose a systemic risk far bigger than any big bank, and they are virtually unregulated.

    • I was going to mention how we used to look at Microsoft through this lens, and how that has changed. I don’t think they have absolute dominance in the cloud; Google Docs is very widely used. And AWS (Amazon Web Services) has much more business than Azure; in fact, that is something that could be a target of antitrust investigations.

  2. Well, I guess the fact that an expert, like yourself, is unaware of Microsoft’s dominance speaks even more to how under-the-radar they have been.

    In 2018, Microsoft overtook Amazon in total revenue from the ‘the cloud’. Azure continues to grow faster than AWS, and, at the current rate, it will probably over take AWS within the next few years.

    That said, I wasn’t really talking about back-end cloud infrastructure. I was speaking to cloud apps, and mostly about their dominance amongst small businesses. AFAIK, Amazon isn’t in this space and doesn’t have any sort of office apps or email service. The number of businesses that won’t be able to function given a Microsoft collapse is huge. Of course, an Amazon collapse would also be devastating, which is why I included them in my comments about systemic risk, but Amazon is not at all under-the-radar.

    As for Google Docs, it has about 10 million users, compared with about 120 million Office-365 users and 1.2 Billion total Word users. As an email app developer, who watched Microsoft successfully convert their self-hosted Exchange-2003 users to Office-365 over these past many years, I’m confident that MS will convert most of those 1.2 BILLION Word users into Office-365 users. They don’t really need to do anything but wait as people’s old software gets obsolete and they’re ready to upgrade. As for the full G-suite, it has about 3 million paying users compared with about 120 million paying Office-365 users. I consider that dominance.

    • AWS is way ahead in cloud income. I did not t Microsoft had that many 365 users. To be fair, Microsoft‘s offer is much better because it includes offline apps. And, yes, Amazon has nothing to compete with them.

      To be fair, google is evil, and I think a lot of people are reacting to that. I host my email with google — with my personal domain — and I’m looking to change because of their ad practices. I might consider Microsoft, I don’t know how easy it is to move to them though.

  3. Moving mail: out of the frying pan into the fire? Have you tried Fastmail.com? It should be easy to move if you use imap and go through a desktop imap client.

    I’ve been with them for many years now, and they’re great. You can try them for 30 days free, no credit card required. They charge a fair price for the service (US $50 per year if you want to use your own domains), so they have no need to mine your messages for data to sell. They also have some nice extras such as static web pages, webdav, carddav and caldav.

    The only problem I’ve had is since they’re in Australia, my credit card often flags them as a suspicious transaction when renewal comes up.

    As for MS Mail, that’s one of the allowed options here at work. MS is not always adept at running mail servers and they have more downtime than gmail has. Like gmail, it’s also not actually imap, though they have a pretend imap interface. Like gmail, sometimes it works ok.

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