From “Here Come the 4 Horsemen of the Techopolypse” in Thursday’s New York Times:
The chief executives of four of the most powerful tech companies in the world — Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon — have agreed to appear in late July before a congressional committee as part of an investigation focused on antitrust…
“We have very serious concerns about the absence of competition,” Mr. Cicilline said. “So we are interested in a wide range of things like their acquisitions, bullying, market power, their favoring of their products and services…”
No surprise that I prefer public grillings with a side of shame, but more important will be how the companies portray themselves and how they differentiate themselves. While it’s convenient to apply the catchall term “Big Tech” to them, they are not a monolith and some in this group are further along in understanding that with great power comes great responsibility — and, more important, accountability.
At the heart of these inquiries, of course, is how can we continue to innovate as power has become more concentrated than ever. I have done innumerable interviews with start-ups and investors in which they talk about the chilling effect of big companies on their business.
Ask yourself, how easy it is to start an ad-based search engine, a social network, a major online retailer or an app platform when these companies completely cover the field with their money and power and might?
My take: “Favoring their products and services” on their own app platform is where Apple is vulnerable.