Every corporation wants to control as much of its day-to-day operations as possible. Apple has long wanted to control what is called ‘the whole stack.’ Hardware and software. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once envisioned a factory where sand went in one end and finished computers exited at the other end.
Dream on. As large and as powerful as today’s technology behemoths have become, it’s beginning to look as if Apple, Google, Facebook, and others are losing control.
First, Facebook. This one is easy because the social media giant has created many enemies in government thanks to an overbearing policy of collecting ever more information from users for profits. Think monopoly abuse. There are calls to break up Facebook and I understand the sentiment.
Second, Google. This one is easy, too, because the search engine giant has created many enemies in government thanks to flaunting its monopoly status in search and online advertising, plus the whole privacy issue where information is gathered from users and then used, in turn, to manipulate those very users for profits. Think monopoly abuse. There are calls to break up Google, and I understand the sentiment.
Third, but not finally, Apple. Apple is anything but a typical monopoly, but Apple, too, has incurred the wrath of legislators and authorities because of its practice of hiding customer information away from prying eyes, and running an App Store for its products– particularly iPhone and iPad– where it sets the rules.
Amazon and Microsoft also get listed as part of an effort to break up big technology; the former more than the latter, but neither company owns a monopoly anywhere; and certainly no more so than Walmart and you don’t hear calls to break up the Arkansas company from anyone but competitors.
Amazon and Walmart combined have done more to damage small and medium-sized retail businesses than a century of technological changes, but neither wield the same control over constituents and users the way Facebook and Google do today.
Already the European Union has come down hard on both companies, threatens Apple, and we see similar noise from political candidates in the U.S. from both sides of the aisle. Politicians are no different than corporations. They both prefer to exercise control over their own destinies.
Google and Facebook have lost some and might lose more. So far, about the only negative for Apple has come from its stance on Hong Kong and the App Store monopoly, but election season has already started so you know the checkbooks are open and those politicians on the take are busy taking.