The Growing Monopoly

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the competition, and have created thousands of high paying jobs. We interact with them every day, we share personal information with them, and we trust them. But, we never care about what this information is being used for, we just keep giving them more. 

Imagine a shop owner who doesn’t pay tax, treats its employees poorly, and yet is celebrated for their business success. A computer company that retains information about acts of terrorism from federal investigators, with support from consumers that worship these companies similar to a god. A social media group that analyses thousands of images of you and your loved ones, and sells information to other companies. We know these companies are not kind-hearted, non-profit organizations, but we invite them into our lives and share with them personal information even though we know it will be used for profit among other things. So, why do we keep giving them what they want?  

Imagine waking up to an alarm clock, you hit the snooze button then roll out of bed. You go to the window and check your thermometer to see clouds outside. You grab a raincoat, look at your watch and realize you're late for work. You rush out the door and forget to turn off the lights. You run back and grab them, then realize you left the lights on. You turn them off and run to the car. You drive to work listening to the radio and get into a traffic jam. At work, you sit down at your desk and start typing an article for the local newspaper. After work, you drive to the grocery store to get Tide. Later you return home and watch TV.

Life would be so much different without the fives role in our life. You wake up to your phone's alarm and check the weather. You tell Alexa that your leaving for work, and she turns off the lights and tells you that the traffic is bad and she recommends taking I-10 to work today. You hop into the car and connect your phone to the car and start playing music. You arrive at work five minutes early check your phone notifications. You log onto your computer and start typing an article. After work, you drive home and order Tide, and watch TV on your phone.   

There is a good chance that everything you did involved one of the five. Your phone is an Apple phone, if not it runs Google's operating system, Android. Alexa is made by Amazon or you could use Siri or Google Home, Apple's and Google's version of Alexa. You play music from, Apple Music, Google Play music or Amazon Prime Music. You check your phone, and its likely Facebook or one of Facebook's sub-companies, Instagram or WhatsApp. Your computer most likely runs either window, or Mac OS. That article you are typing, there's a good chance that you're writing it in Microsoft word, and if not you're using Google's version Google Docs.  You use Amazon to do the shopping instead of going to the grocery store. You, go home and watch TV on you Apple TV, or even Amazon’s Fire TV or on your phone.

The five have deeply intertwined themselves into our daily lives that we cannot live life today without them.  

Five companies have almost managed to create a monopoly in their markets. Amazon has 44 percent of all online retail sales with eBay in second with 6.8 percent (Rani Mola 1). According to Shep Hykens from Forbes, 64 percent of households have Amazon prime and only 55 percent voted in 2016.  Google owns 63.2 percent of the phone market with Apple in second with 35 percent. Microsoft owns 91.4 percent of the computer software market with Apple in second with 6.3 percent. Facebook has 1.28 billion daily user and 600 million users of Instagram. These companies have become too big, too fast, and have destroyed the competition, and will continue to do so until they are broken up. When the five see a good Idea, they ether copy it or buy them with their endless capital provided by their always increasing stock value. The New York University of business and marketing professor explained “that the four giants should be broken up precisely because they threaten, not enhance. Capitalism (1).”  

In 2006 a company called Foundum was launched. You would look up, for example, Cortana Gaming Keyboard, then there would be sites like FoundDum that would come up and show you the lowest price, where you could get it and a graph of the price, to see if now was a good time to buy it. On the twenty-sixth of June Foundum’s sales dropped dramatically. They used to be fourth in the rankings of Google but they dropped to 47. A couple days later Foundum’s founders realized that Google shoved them down, to replace them with their ad system. Google unfairly replaced them, put hundreds of businesses out of business, and left hundreds of people without a job.   

With the five controlling the market place, prices have risen significantly. The iPhone 4s came out in 2011 at a price of $299, it cost Apple $188 dollars to make (Chole Abannisues). Today, Apple's market share has gone up and so have their prices. According to Erik Jenkins from Money magazine, the iPhone X cost Apple $372 to make and retails at $1,000. We can see similar patterns within Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Without competition, the market will not move or improve. It will only get more expensive for the consumer.  

Thus, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google need to be broken up. They have created what should be considered a monopoly, and have run right through the competition and will destroy anything that comes up against them. They are innovators, but they are also a business that seeks profits and will do whatever they can to get money. Even if that means invading your privacy, or raising the cost of their product. For now, we are safe but if we do not move on this growing issue, our voice will be unheard.  

Emory Hill



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