Virtually every day a targeted feature or software change is announced in an attempt to damage the monopoly next door
Competition is the cornerstone of capitalism. Except, sometimes, when monopolies take hold. This week CEO’s of the largest tech firms will be grilled (or at least questioned) on just how each of them got so big, and why they should not be broken up or regulated, in order to improve competition in the online marketplace that is now the world’s lifeblood.
The mistake of history that allowed Google, Amazon and Facebook to emerge from the dot-com era of zero profit companies as winner-take-all trillion dollar behemoths is finally being questioned by the masses, which has led to government investigation and inquiry.
Apple was not founded during the 90s, actually produces products and does not rely on the monetization of user data as it’s main revenue generator; it does not sell below cost in a loss-leader system designed to cripple any competition and has a completely different business ethos, all of which separates the three mentioned above into a different category for this writer.
Nevertheless, in a world where giants from an earlier time are dwarfed by the sheer size and power of these 4 (Microsoft and Tesla are excluded from this article since each has its own backstory and are best looked at separately), a situation has arisen where only one giant has the power to even touch, let alone threaten, another giant.
There are many ways that these giants have always fought one another, yet as they staked out territories and empires, there seemed to be, at times, a tacit agreement that the domain of one would not be violated by another, like an unspoken mafia code or territorial claim.
Those lines between the giants are getting blurry as a silent siege is building and those previously “untouchable” areas of commerce are being targeted.
The fight may be about dollars in the end, but it is the essential control of data and user behavior that leads to all power, and therefore value and income. And each giant has staked a claim to a method or means to control and influence the behavior of billions of eyeballs and souls. Any change in that status quo is a big deal for these entrenched companies, and potentially good news for small businesses and consumers who are, without a doubt, little more than victims of the current insanely evil system.
Those lines between the giants are getting blurry as a silent siege is building and those previously “untouchable” areas of commerce are being targeted.– D.L.
Here are a few of the new fronts where this hidden and secret battle is being fought:
Google Shopping, following Walmart, is trying to lure 3rd party sellers and sales away from Amazon
Already under fire for rigging search results to favor itself, Google is doubling down, in a sense, via drastically lowering fees for 3rd party sellers to use Google Shopping to get direct sales from Shopify or other non-Amazon sources.
Since Amazon’s fees can approach 30% for some lower cost items (such as books) this will be a powerful incentive for sellers to shift focus away from Amazon’s predatory fee structure and to a platform that potentially could bring in sales with less cost to the seller (and therefore a better end value to the buyer).
Google is offering zero commission listing and, in a big announcement, also currently charging zero, in the US, for the “buy on google” checkout system. This is in the process of expanding and rolling out, and, potentially, by the fall and holiday season, could provide an interesting shift in how small business can operate online.
Walmart started allowing 3rd party sellers onto its online store several years ago but, recently, kicked that process into overdrive with a new system that allows all Shopify accounts the choice to sell on Walmart.com via a direct link between the two.
Bookshop.org, with whom Lynxotic is affiliated via our sister site Cherrybooks.org, is also a company that is attempting to break the stranglehold Amazon has had on online book sales. Surprisingly successful already, with its B Corp non-profit-like structure and alliances with independent bookstores sale have exploded. Affiliate advertising from huge media companies such as the New York Times have climbed on board and the largest book distributor in the US is a partner for fulfillment. Bookshop.Org has been able to put a tiny dent in the largest, most powerful competitor imaginable, showing, perhaps, that there are cracks emerging in the corrupt business models of these giants and they are not 100% invulnerable after all.
Apple’s iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 (along with mac 11 OS Big Sur) will begin to break Google’s search monopoly with direct links in Safari and Spotlight
For companies wanting to bring traffic and customers to their web sites for many years there has been only one very big game available, so-called SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which refers in the words “search” and “engine” to one that controls over 90% of search traffic: Google (91.75% as of June 2020).
So it could be called GEO or just GO for Google Optimization. And this is a massive industry in and of itself.
Increasingly, however, this monopoly is also being challenged. Not only in Europe where massive fines against the search giant have been levied, but in the growing options for sites to be found in ways other than qualifying for a first page placement (paid for or otherwise) in Googles search results.
Soon, for the billion + apple device users worldwide, there will be a new way to find news sources and other web sites. Both search in Safari and Spotlight, which is the device level search system on iPhone, iPad and Mac computers, will soon have results that link directly to the source, bypassing google in the process.
This is a small statement but will have a huge effect in the real world. The reason is simple but mind-blowing: a search result choice not controlled by google, available on one billion plus devices, has the potential to begin to break the monopoly, and Google’s ability (and how much) to charge for the privilege of being found through its search results.
How the Apple search results are generated and what companies would be featured in those direct results is as yet unknown and may never be released (like Google’s proprietary algorithm). The emergence of ASO (Apple Search Optimization) notwithstanding, just the fact that there is a new player presenting new opportunities for news outlets and eCommerce companies to be found by Apple device owners, is very interesting news indeed.
Apple will expose the worst of predatory surveillance by Facebook, Amazon and Google with new privacy features
Announced at WWDC 2020, the new operating systems are coming with serious features that track, and block as desired, all manner of data intrusions. These are not only identified, but shown and tracked and analyzed with a kind of professional dashboard, showing just how invasive and persistent these invisible spies are.
Tracking the trackers is a clear and aggressive privacy stance, taken by the one company among the big four, that does not have a huge stake in you being the victim of online surveillance and tracking.
Not to say that Apple is blameless. Many are complaining about its fee structure for software sold by third parties via the app stores. While this issue is certainly a valid one, the overall stance being taken regarding online tracking and surveillance should be seen for what it is: the first step to correcting the mistake of history that allowed the internet to be kidnapped and held hostage by a handful of companies that pretend to be “free” or “customer obsessed” while they are, in fact, Robber Barons that make the Standard Oil monopoly look like Santa Claus.
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