Terminator: Rise of the corporations
“Our massive new monopolies: Amazon, Google and Facebook have the power to move entire economies
Tech companies have amassed frightening economic power — and we handed over our data to make it possible”
This is the headline and summary for an article on Salon Magazine that, as you can imagine, spreads around the news of the impending rise of the corporations as a political power.
As an everyday Reddit user, I’m exposed to conspiracy theories and uninformed statements like this every day. I’ve read about unfounded fears based on misinformation on food, health, public safety and politics, but I have to say that to read this kind of bullshit on the Technology field truly baffles me.
Let’s take a step back at the main premise: Tech companies have amassed frightening economic power. So, this is supposed to be scary, right? The amount of money these companies handle is “frightening”, but why?
If we take a look at Forbes 2000 biggest global companies list, we can notice that 7 out of the top 10 companies are banks, 2 are oil companies and one is a consumer goods company. We don’t see Apple until the #12 and Samsung until the number 18.
Of the three companies mentioned, Google shows in number 39, Facebook is #280 and Amazon is #458! So there’s literally 500 companies with much more economic power than Amazon, and also, these companies actually control industries such as food, power and banking, which in my opinion are much, much more frightening as means to control population than Amazon, what is Amazon going to do with his economic power? Make a regulation for free shipping? Those companies rose to power because they offer amazing and in some cases, free services that are user centered and in constant improvement.
These companies are not monopolies. The fact that they are the biggest is only correlated to the fact that they are the best and their competition plainly sucks. Wal-mart is in Forbes’ list, you wanna know in which spot? #16. Wal-Mart is valued in 261.3 Billions and Amazon is valued at $175.1 Billion. That’s a monopoly? You’re calling a company which main competitor is literally a Hundred Billion more valuable, a monopoly? How much more ignorant can you get?
Then there’s the most backwards, ignorant and plain stupid argument that keeps being thrown around in technology:
“They are using our data”
I’m aware that privacy is a very hot topic right now in technology, but, years ago we were dreaming about the kind of solutions that now we have the technology to implement, and now that we have them, we have decided that we don’t like how they work.
But, isn’t this what we always wanted? We despised monolithic old school companies that didn’t care about consumers and controlled both supply and demand, now these companies with actual value take their place and we demonize them as well?
You think that if Kodak had data on their users and how they used their devices they would have gone bankrupt?
If Motorola or Chrysler had direct input from users instead of entering on extremely expensive and slow production cycles that ended up in failed products because they clearly didn’t understand what the market needed they would be zillionaires. Facebook and Amazon iterate their production cycles on daily basis.
Amazon didn’t just launch and remained static, it’s undergone hundreds of thousand of changes, from layouts to back-end solutions, some didn’t work, some did, but they keep improving. How do they do it? Because they listen to their data and their consumers. Can you imagine if Amazon didn’t use real-time consumer data? Oh, wait, you can. There’s Barnes & Noble, Circuit City and Radio Shack to give a few examples. So, we want better services, that pretty much anticipate every want and need, and comunicates with everything else around us, but without us having to give a single tidbit of anonimous data for them to work on. Because watching million-dollar businesses tumble in the dark, and most likely fall, is very fucking fun.
You see, these companies are valuable not because they have your data, they are valuable because they found a valuable application for some things about you that help them bring you, the consumer, a better service.
So, what would make consumers happy? Are we just mad that good companies, with compelling offers become rich and successful? Is it the pain that it was at the users’ anonymous data expense? If they are collecting anonymous data to bring me a better service, why is that so evil?
I enjoy improving services, what other choice would they have without constant input from users? Trial and error? like 50 years ago?
So, dear readers, what’s it going to be? Good, intelligent, intuitive services that translate to successful companies that set the example for how business should be done, or old-school, failing businesses that take decades to understand new business models or consumer needs, because they need to experiment and fail, with sometimes billions in loses, because they lack even basic customer data?