Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Apr 2017 22:36 UTC, submitted by Alfman

The original headline (I changed it) is clickbaity, but the article raises good points.

In just 10 years, the world's five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place.

They're all tech companies, and each dominates its corner of the industry: Google has an 88 percent market share in search advertising, Facebook (and its subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) owns 77 percent of mobile social traffic and Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market. In classic economic terms, all three are monopolies.

We have been transported back to the early 20th century, when arguments about "the curse of bigness" were advanced by President Woodrow Wilson's counselor, Louis Brandeis, before Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) "in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people." We need look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role that Facebook and Google play in the "fake news" business to know that Brandeis was right.

Any entity which becomes a threat to the well-being of our society, our planet, or the people on it must be dealt with. I'm not quite sure if e.g. Google or Apple qualify for that, and if they do, how to deal with that, but I sure as hell do not wish to live in a society where any one corporation is more powerful than the people.

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RE[2]: People are crazy
by DrJohnnyFever on Tue 25th Apr 2017 03:02 UTC in reply to "RE: People are crazy"
Member since:

And yet I still do 99% of all my shopping on Amazon and love it.

Some of you sound crazy. You complain when companies make "too much" money. You complain if they don't change enough money etc etc.

I can sort of understand complaining about your ISP being a monopoly. Or when in the US it was law that only AT&T could provide phone service or the US postal service providing crappy service but they're the only ones allowed to mail you letters.

But Amazon and Google? If you don't like them don't type into your browser. If you think Google is a predator quit using chrome and Gmail. You can't be anticompetitive in an industry you invented.

And don't act like you don't have alternatives. There are alternatives. The reason why the market share isn't evenly split between players is because some do a better job than others.

How about you all take your own advice. When people ask for recommendations don't recommend the best... Recommend the smallest or what you think is the worst. It will save humanity!

Edited 2017-04-25 03:03 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: People are crazy
by Alfman on Tue 25th Apr 2017 03:30 in reply to "RE[2]: People are crazy"
Alfman Member since:


The problem is that when companies become too big, they start looking for ways to use their market power to exploit the imbalances between themselves and everyone else. It's no longer an equal playing field and those that innovate can be held back by those in control. The free market goes well when the deck is distributed fairly, but when you've got too few parties holding all the cards, it's just a slaughter that has very little to do with merit and everything to do with control.

Antitrust came about in recognition that monopolies do not serve public interests. There is a question of where to draw the line, even without monopolies companies can collude to make the market non-viable for newcomers. Sometimes to make an industry more competitive, you've got to break up or restrict the companies that control it. Like you, not everyone agrees that big companies should be broken up, but then we have to live with less competition, and by extension less innovation.

Edited 2017-04-25 03:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: People are crazy
by M.Onty on Tue 25th Apr 2017 21:36 in reply to "RE[2]: People are crazy"
M.Onty Member since:

Between competing companies you have a capitalist system. Within companies you have feudal systems. The more of any market is absorbed within one company the less free market and capitalist it becomes and the more feudal.

Feudal is fine so long as your laird is terribly nice. But one day he may wake up on the wrong side of four poster bed, and there'll be little you can do about it.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: People are crazy
by boblowski on Wed 26th Apr 2017 08:08 in reply to "RE[2]: People are crazy"
boblowski Member since:

And yet I still do 99% of all my shopping on Amazon and love it.

And exactly that proves Thom's central point.

Amazon's core product is market share, it's an investment driven company, not a product driven company. The books etc. just have been means to built that market share.

Just like Google, their market share basically turned them into an unregulated provider of infrastructure. Consumers (like you) are too lazy to buy elsewhere, forcing competing retailers to provide their services through Amazon and basically subsidizing their competitor.

This is worse than a traditional product monopoly. Imagine a situation where say Ford both makes cars and owns 90 percent of the car dealerships. Other car manufacturers have to pay Ford a 50% sales fee to have their cars on sale in those dealerships.

The end result is a fancy sales platform with very limited product innovation, something that has very little to do with a free market and is more like the state ran monopolies and stores in former communist countries.

Reply Parent Score: 3