From the time the personal computer became feasible in the 1980s to the present day, a great deal has changed in the tech industry. Names like Apple and Microsoft are still around, thriving in fact, but there are a few new players, the likes of Facebook, Google, and Amazon. With groundbreaking innovation comes the possibility of monopoly, which is what this blog aims to take a peek at. Specifically, the online services that we know and may or may not love, and how the federal government’s plans to delve into antitrust talks may affect consumers and small business owners.
The European Union has been going after American tech companies frequently as of late, as our President says, “Every week you see them going after Facebook and Apple and all of these companies … The European Union is suing them all of the time.” While this may come as a surprise, just think about how many viable alternatives you have concerning the services these tech giants provide. If you are a small business owner and want to advertise, the local paper does not quite cut it anymore. Or if you sell goods on the internet, you would be unwise to boycott Amazon. This type of control is concerning, which is exactly why the US Department of Justice and Congress have been making moves hinting at antitrust.
But who wins? Currently, consumers and small business owners can access free email with cloud storage and analytics with Google, but would that still be the case if it were split into five different entities with far less resources and capability? Would consumers and small business owners be able to reach each other efficiently if Facebook’s networking prowess was suddenly thwarted and split however many ways? And how about free next day delivery, would that still be a possibility if Amazon were broken up? These are all excellent questions that make us all say “Leave them alone!” But there is another side to the coin to consider.
The dark side of giving all of this power to these Big Tech companies would lie in the prospect of monopoly, which is why the federal government is considering the pursuit of antitrust legislation. Many small business owners already have trouble with competitor advertising on Google and Facebook, claiming that ads featuring their competitors show up on their website or next to their name when searched. If one company controls who sees what and for how much, small businesses may be in big trouble if no one takes action, as they could be monetarily bullied and unable to compete. If Amazon decides to charge vendors outrageous fees to sell their products on its website, it could put countless small businesses out for the count.
Regardless of our current situation, it is a very interesting technological time we are experiencing, and there are sure to be some big changes coming for in the near future. It is entirely possible that our favorite Big Tech companies may look completely different in five years’ time, or perhaps may not exist at all. With technology exploding at its current extraordinary rate, we are going to see some incredible advancements, whether the federal government gets involved or not.