If we look at the picture globally, Big Tech might be necessary for the western world to prevent the proliferation of China's semi-state-backed tech giants outside of China.
Could breaking up big tech in the United States mean ceding position to China's tech giants?
It is not like cheap manufacturing, where the US has to cede ground to China because they simply can't compete. Tech is where the US excels.
Monopolies have better economies of scale as an intrinsic real advantage but tend to be more hidebound and less innovative as they both don't need it in the moment and from a fear or cannibalization. But not always for innovation - they may also have the resources to devote to R&D that smaller players would lack.
The mechanism of the monopoly also has significance for it determines what needs to be done to maintain it. Although having a "better" source like leveraging a prior runaway success is no guarantee that they won't turn to bad ways to preserve it like regulatory capture with no other purpose served.
Instead we have house of cards, layered up on top of each other, without regard for the bloat, impedance mismatches, (intentional) incompabilities and cognitive load that brings with it.
How are they going to do that?
> If they don't then fine them just as much, to have access to the US market.
That's not the issue, the Chinese tech companies would have more freedom and support for the international market. Access to the US is just one part of that and there are already obstacles to that market. The main point is that the US companies would be hamstringed in a way that China companies would not.
U.S. jurisdiction extends on its territory and across the U.S. dollar. If a Chinese company wants to sell to no American companies and never use dollars, they're free to ignore American law.
More pointedly, we've gone through this before. With the USSR. Competitive markets develop better than command-driven ones.
Huawei threatening to become the global standard 5G telecommunications equipment manufacturer is a good example.
China's formula of state capitalism is likely to win in winner-take-all markets. Tearing U.S. giants into pieces would only hurt our competitive position.
Could leaving big tech in control domestically mean ceding position to China's tech giants?
I would recommend researching more about the Chinese technology industry. They aren't dinosaurs. Huawei, Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, and Xiaomi are all serious contenders due to Government support and their overall productivity.
On personal level for example,
I use gmail/google search/rely on google to tell me weather and search news and do FX rate conversion, do some unit conversions, etc. I used to own android based phone and it made life simple to have gmail compatible app and the likes.
Similarly, I can use amazon for shopping, trying out / learning AWS and even get kindle to read ebooks should I desire. heck, amazon provides entire infrastructure to efficiently deliver my parcels --- better than my Government's mailing program.
- Similarly majority of Business world runs mainly on backs of Microsoft (when it comes to corporate tooling and computer OS).
- Even take example of Apple -- their products are worldclass and its integration with its own suite of products makes life so much simpler -- iPhone, iWatch, their storage offerings, etc.
Now imagine having to utilize products between dozens of companies instead of these giants who you don't know would be able to survive in long run. And those blaming these tech giants for lack of collaboration for a market standard -- sure, that is correct but remember it was much worse to integrate products and services among different vendors back in 1980s and 1990s when you had dozens of medium and large companies.
Instead, we had an absolute revolution in communication technology since - from fax lines, to modems, to cell connections, to the commercial internet.
It turns out that innovation happens more often when there is a lot of competition in the market. And the market figures out how to build standards for interop - you don’t need all of the products from the same company to get them to work together.
This is common misconception.
Look at the list of acquisitions made by FAANG companies. For some reason their internal innovation dries up very fast and they buy innovation.
FAANG companies innovate with checkbook and grow using network effect.
Yahoo was particularly bad for this (Flickr, Delicious).
So without trying to answer the question one way or the other, I just want to share this link which came to mind: https://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/
Consumer-welfare standard is not the only concern of antitrust regulation.
Travel agents could find flights in DOS applications much faster than nowadays.
Life has turned into a gigantic useless digital bureaucracy.
Precisely because of the lack of standards. A monopoly is a standard of sorts, but it does not foster progress.
Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google all owe their existence to the open web. Apple's iPhone wouldn't be nearly as successful if they couldn't attach to nearly any modern cell phone network. Even Microsoft owes success to the commodification of the PC.
All of the success we attribute to capitalism is due to competitive free markets. Like democracy itself, it should not be taken for granted. We could lose it and we'll be much the worse off if we do.
I'd much prefer laws preventing user lock in and lowing the burden of starting a competitor to these companies.
Google on the other hand is a straightforward antitrust case. I think Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp could potentially also be undone. Amazon seems to have been trying to expand the market definition to all of retail or ecommerce, at least in their PR, but an antitrust case against them would likely define the market more narrowly to particular verticals (like book sales).
Translate the subtitle "Smaller rivals join growing chorus ahead of Congress hearing" sensationalist hit piece into reality and you get captain fucking obvious "Rivals: Please hamper our competitors - to grandstanders interested in maintaining lobbyist money shakedown".
The Basecamp complaint is nonsensical even in the framework of nonsense of Trademarks. If I announce that I am selling Yamaha Jetskis and have the actual product (not a counterfeit) their job is to shut the hell up.
As someone from nearby The Hague, um, what does this mean?
Not an implication that the trials are illegitimate or anything like that.
Also don't use their services. It is pretty easy to remove most of Google from your life. I don't think Google search is even that much better than the alternatives anymore (I am using Duck Duck Go and they are about the same these days tbh).
> The reason Chrome even exists today is because the US & EU governments forced Microsoft to support other software and companies better.
Chrome came well after Firefox (2008 versus 2002). Many people were fed up with IE due to poor security and performance and were evangelising Firefox online.
> Mozilla has produced its own browser, called Firefox, that is enjoying a surge in popularity as increasing numbers of people and organisations tire of the security problems that plague Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
You could always install your own browser on Windows. There was nothing ever stopping you from downloading another browser and running it on Windows (in fact Opera at the time IIRC was doing well in Germany). Firefox was simply better than IE and people started using it.
Many more stories if you look for "Microsoft Chrome" on HN.
People started changing browser 5 years earlier because Firefox was better than IE (in terms of security). People changed from Firefox to Chrome because performance in Firefox 3.6 was horrendous (browser tended to lock up) and Google Chrome was again better at the time.
The fact that Microsoft was engaging in Anti-competitive practices actually proves my point. That despite all their meddling they started losing the browser war because Firefox was a better product at the time.
Google is in the most dire situation. They own search, own the browser and phone walled gardens that bring you there, own all the ads, knee-kick ad blocking attempts, have started taking over content (AMP), have a surveillance panopticon, control standards and neuter challenges to them (HTML5 is less semantic than XHTML), have surveillance devices in the home, embrace-extend-extinguish entire product spaces, kill products people rely on, don't offer support ...
Google has its hands in too many pies, actively hurts other industries, and they're creepy af.
Facebook might have less of a case against it, but they routinely flaunt Democratic lawmakers, shape public opinion in bad ways, and buy out the competition. Not a strong case, but I think it would be argued from a social good perspective.
Apple and Microsoft seem safe. I have no idea about Amazon, since they have competition in all their markets.
Some people in politics really do care; but at least in the US, it's hard not to look at the state of things and come to the conclusion that the system lends itself to corruption that goes so deep that nobody with any real influence has a vested interest in "virtues" outside of using them to curry favor with the general public.
Again, I apologize for how jaded this sounds... but it's really hard to feel any other way.
Is this an indication of some sort of tipping point being reached? Have most people regardless of politics come to the same conclusion about the reality of the silicon valley surveillance-fueled power grab?
"I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating."
“Most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad,” Google cofounder Sergey Brin says as the meeting begins. “I find this election deeply offensive, and I know many of you do too. It’s a stressful time, and it conflicts with many of our values. I think it’s a good time to reflect on that. ... So many people apparently don’t share the values that we have.”
There are almost 8 billion of us. You don't speak for everyone. And I say that as a non-american who has no horse in the race.
We let our Android app lapse because their automated tools incorrectly picked up a compliance error. I couldn't figure out a way to escalate that--their support was crazy bad.
That led me to look harder at our revenue. Android was 1/10 of the revenue that iOS brings in, with much lower retention, higher support costs, higher rates of credit card disputes.
So that pretty much sealed the deal for us--there's no reason to invest in the Google ecosystem.
> Google has its hands in too many pies...
That's one of the reasons anti-trust is such a difficult case to make. Besides search, Google doesn't really have a dominate market share within any of their other offerings (not even Android counts since it's open source and comes in many flavors from phone companies). Their search service is free, so the only party that is effected by their market dominance (in how we've typically defined trusts) are advertisers. Before they can have a strong anti-trust strong case, the government needs to define data as an asset and the disclosure of that data as a cost to the data owner (the Google user).
The success of the other Google offerings is due more to the benefits of network effects, you'd need more than a decrease in Google ad subsidies to be competitive.
I've been wondering the last couple days how people can best support Mozilla, aside from simply switching to Firefox. And how to best share the message with others who aren't technical or normally wouldn't care, like my friends and family. I'm willing to put up with some conveniences from not using Chrome, but that might be enough for them to not care.
It seems to me that a purely organizational split would be nothing more than something on a piece of paper. The two corporations could still rent buildings next to each other, have lunch meetings together, gift each other money, and continue as before.
Even if they were forced to use a different physical building, they could form a corporate alliance and share customer loyalty.
What makes them choose to compete, when given the choice?
Seems easy enough for the broken up Instagram and whatsapp to instantly declare insolvency and close up shop while conveniently getting jobs for the newly formed Facebook photos app that would also be conveniently released at the same time.
Microsoft seems safest of all, almost as if they see the coming investigations and regulations.
At some point soon I will (re-)learn the search bar syntax just so I can cull the damn Amazon results.
cats -site:example.com works on both DuckDuckGo and Google, except... Google Shopping doesn't give a shit about -site when there are sponsored links to be shown.
Search for, say, Anker, on google and -site:amazon.com removes amazon, -site:bestbuy.com removes Best Buy (nothing against Best Buy, it's just the first result I saw not including Amazon, so the easiest to check).
Flip over to Shopping and it's wall-to-wall Amazon.
So I have a new skill, but at the cost of knowing I'm screwed instead of not knowing. Fuck.
Heh - it's almost as if hindsight is 20/20.
Similarly, I think what Amazon does with their Basic brand as well as them blocking Google products and other competitors off their stores could very well be a target. Them using financial tricks to pay some of the lowest taxes also won't help them with democrats.
I think there is a serious chance, no matter who wins the election. The tech companies have pulled off the difficult feat of allying both parties against them. Democrats, in addition to their historical opposition to big business, blame them for the spread of misinformation that allowed Trump to get elected, and Republicans blame them for censoring Republican opinion. The fact that these companies have very outspoken employees who publicly oppose conservatives (see Kay James) does not help.
In the past, big business could rely on Republicans to shield them. However, for the most part, big tech entered the culture wars opposing Republicans, and I think a lot of Republicans will happily support their breakup.
There's no allying against them, they've been sweet talking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The amazing part is that both sides hate them for their own political reasons, not because of any common ground.
Literally every Google product has a competitor and the cost of switching is very low unless you're talking about their hardware, which is hardly successful much less dominant.
Windows and Internet Explorer always had competition. The cost of switching to Netscape and later Firefox was extremely low. That did not stop people from referring to Windows and IE as monopolies in the past. With Windows, some still call it a monopoly today.
The most disgusting part is they are unfairly using their search and ads (i.e. data) to set up subsidiaries to compete with their own ad customers and bid up the price of ads to their own customers.
Say you are an airline or airfare aggregator. Google knows the market size (search), they have a good idea of your marketing budget and online ROI. Once they see you have a thriving business/product/industry they create their own competitor. Organically Google's competitor will float to the top of Search, if they don't outright make a "native" interactive tool that appears above ads and organic search results. As if thats not shady enough, they start buying their own ads (money is just going from their left hand to their right hand) which now the cost of ads for you has increased because you are competing with a Google company that is getting them for free. Now your options are spend more on ads for a smaller slice of the market or just packup an go home leaving Google as the industry leader (which based on history they really didn't even want in the first place as they are likely to deprecate their product, leaving the market with no product/service provider).
also lets be real there's really one 1 search engine.
Facebook has a market-cap of ~630B. Individually you could easily see how an independent Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp would be worth more. AWS is probably the most valuable company in the world but is tucked away with the P&L of the various other parts of Amazon.
I think the way to do that without having a conflict of interest is to leverage decentralized technologies to create large public platforms/marketplaces that companies can plug into.
Moderation for example could "simply" be part of law enforcement. Having corporations design their own rules/laws on top of the legal system is costly and undesirable. A proper legal formula would have punishments that scale with the offense.
Having government manage authentication could rule out banning people across all services without stating a reason.
Accidentally having some back ground music in a youtube video wouldn't have cops rip your mailbox out of the ground or cancel your drivers license. It is that absurd to have google do it.
Some processes need some type of private data, if the data is stored on government servers access could be managed on a case by case basis. Likewise, data transferred between google services would have to be routed though gov servers where the request can be compared with the goals.
Google could provide a set of adverts to be shown next to email but gmail wouldn't provide a source of information to display adds elsewhere.
"Having government manage authentication could rule out banning people across all services without stating a reason."
These both sound like Very Bad Ideas that could be implemented in short order by the People's Republic of China, building off the existing social credit system, to predictably anti-democratic results.
Decoupling authentication from Big Tech is a noble goal, but it should also absolutely be decoupled from Big Gov't as well.
Not in countries with freedom of speech enshrined in the constitution.
I think we have good laws for what goes and doesn't go in public. Much more relaxed than the big platforms terms of service. You already get arrested if you publish the "right" kind of video. I'm simply suggesting we should strip away whatever social engineering facebook and google have in mind.
The dumb account termination as a punishment for everything is like revoking peoples citizenship by administrative punishment - in a one size fits all approach.
Google's tos literally says they can terminate your account without stating a reason. That is much more dystopian than the Chinese social credit system.
The idea here is: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do.
Emphasis added. What does "blocks" means in this context?
If you are worried about your costumers discovering and switching to your competition by way of seeing mentions of it in search for your brand name, then you don’t have a good enough product.
What rankles in the Basecamp example (not saying it rises to the level of antitrust, though) is that the user is specifically searching for Basecamp. Basecamp has already "earned" this lead though their other marketing spend, or word of mouth, or whatever. However, if they don't pay Google, they risk losing this lead to competitors sniping the "Basecamp" term. In a way, Google is selling Basecamp's leads to competitors (contrary to what the user actually wants!) using their "monopoly" in search.
But anyway, I don't see how that's relevant.
Well, I suppose that might've happened if you were another publication or something. But it was relatively rare. Also, newspapers weren't the only way people advertised, for instance the yellow pages was a big deal when I was a kid. (and it was the subject of a Ralph Nader article calling it out as a monopoly: https://frankwarner.typepad.com/free_frank_warner/2004/08/fo... )
Search is something that didn't even exist back then (yellow pages were the nearest thing, but still way different), so there is no way to claim that the structure was kept the same. Nobody could take your store out of its physical location and make it unreachable back then.
However, a monopoly, this does not make. The world being pay to play doesnt automatically mean one behemoth is sole gatekeeper. There are plenty of different platforms you can fight for access on, fights you may win and profit from.
Feeding the search machine only makes google stronger. If businesses stop giving away their content to google for free, it will stop being so important.
The only platforms that can be trusted are the unowned, decentralised ones, email and www
So, let's say you are a business. You can only control what you do, not what all the other businesses in the world do.
Is your strategy to keep your content off Google, in hopes that you will starve the "search machine" and thereby weaken it?
My guess is you won't be a business for long with that strategy.
But take basecamp for example. Do they really need google searches for such a specialized business software? There is email and other forms of marketing they can use to reach out directly to prospective users with that 70000.
And that is just Basecamp. There are many other businesses whose best strategy is to "play ball" with the dominant companies. But they are at their mercy.
Many people (including myself) feel that this isn't healthy competition nor is socially optimal.
Regardless, my point was that you advocated a strategy that only works if all the small companies are cooperating....in other words, a game theoretically unsound strategy.
You may have good advice, given the status quo, but why must me accept the status quo.
Also, a more likely thing to happen than "pulling away as soon as they have momentum" is "abandon the project far earlier, because investors didn't want to go there so it never got off the ground at all."
Yeah, just like make phone to rival Google ($1 trillion) and Apple ($1.4 trillion) and you too can sell hardware and software without the fear of getting shut out. It's just that easy.
The other way to make exploitation harder is to pass some regulations that you aren't allowed to collect data on people and sell it without explicit permission. You must opt-in and you can't be penalized for saying no. People complain about Facebook and Google spying on you and forget that the carriers know where every single person is 24/7. They know (mostly) every website that every single person visits and at what times via DNS lookups. This data is scary and they shouldn't be able to collect it let alone sell it.