Just how much bigger can these corporations get?
I have been looking through some big US company results recently? It led me to wonder just how BIG can these corporations get? Are they too big? Are they providing a subjective and unbiased service to the customer?
As these businesses become so powerful – aren’t we as users, in danger of losing the very service we bought in to? Are these huge corporations now monopolising and dictating tech’ policy to you and I the user?
You know the companies I’m talking about – Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft etc. The dominance of these tech’ giants is astonishing. This is underlined by the exceptional results recently announced by them.
How big are they?
I’m going to round these figures to make my point and not use absolutes. Overall revenue totals for just four of these corporations based on reports was in the region of £74 billion – and that was for just ONE quarter!
Facebook £7.1 billion – sales up 45%.
Amazon £29 billion – sales up 25%.
Google £19.8 billion – sales up 21%.
Microsoft £17.8 billion – sales up 13%.
These figures are just staggering to me. No wonder the DOW Jones Industrial Average has been breaking new records.
Facebook is reported to now have something like 2.1 billion users worldwide. The world population is estimated at 7.5 billion (take a look at this site: World Population Clock) and with Facebook clocking up 2.1 billion users – that’s nearly 30% of the worlds population using just one of these services. That’s a huge number of people potentially being influenced by one corporation – is that a good thing?
Google is the number one ‘go to’ company for online searches – many of us use it daily – I know I do. Amazon is the ‘go to’ retail portal for billions and Microsoft’s operating system runs billions of our computers and has done so since the 1970’s.
I guess I’m attempting to make two simple points here. The first being that these companies are immense in stature and they involve and influence our lives for good and bad on a daily basis – is that a good or bad thing? Secondly, as users of these free services (that’s you and me) – we seem blissfully happy to trade off our personal information to obtain something for free!
Its free to you and me
It’s quite staggering and concerning to me how we so easily ‘give away’ our personal and private information. For instance we give up our addresses, telephone numbers, our likes and dislikes, where we shop, what we buy, what we eat, where we eat, where we go and what we watch and listen too. We give away information about our family, friends our interests. We give away our bank account details, debit card and credit card information.
In online communications we give away our identities and locations. When we travel we freely give up our travelling habits, holiday information. Look – I think you get my point – so I won’t press it home any further!
These companies gather, analyse and act on the free information we ‘give away’. It’s a kind of trade off! We give up our info’ and they give us a free service – and we are so happy about that – aren’t we?
A clearer picture
I’m painting a dreadfully cynical picture here and I don’t think it’s entirely fair. Many users are happy to ‘give up’ this information and that’s fair enough I guess. But some may not realise just how much is being given away and just how this information is being used by these faceless corporations. Facebook for example recently reported a 71% rise in profits in the second quarter and a user base above 2 billion.
These companies are using our information that we freely give, directly or indirectly to influence what we do and how we do it. In the process they make huge profits from analysing and targeting our information to cleverly influence what we buy and do. Now, if I were a shareholder I’d be delighted with these figures and for the return I get on my investments. But in the back of my mind – little alarm bells are ringing. That suggests to me something isn’t quite right.
Better analysis, faster and more intelligent algorithms and the imminent arrival of artificial intelligence (A.I.) may introduce us to trouble in the future.
If these huge corporations were made smaller and less able to monopolise our lives – would things slow down a little so we could think a bit more about what we do before we give our information away! It’s all happening at such lightening speed – we just haven’t time to think.
Should we trade off our private personal information for a free service? In my experience companies usually have to work hard to obtain our information and gain our confidence. Now – we just give it away for free! Why?
Not all of our huge tech’ companies are targeting our information and using it to better their businesses. Some provide brilliant operating systems and software to make our lives easier and more productive to use for work and play. Some provide brilliant products too. Just be careful how much of your personal information you give away.
Some companies will harvest our data and use it to have a greater undeserved influence in our lives. In my humble opinion they know far too much about what we do and how we do it! After all – your data is private and it belongs to you – so try and keep it safe!
I for one am not a fan of this ‘trade-off”!