Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Four

The Four
The Economist
The New York Times
Scott Galloway's new book The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google analyses the impact of the 800-pound gorillas of online technology: "Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are the four most influential companies on the planet." Galloway calls them "the Four Horsemen," and - in case anyone is thinking, whither Microsoft? - he argues that MS was "the original horseman." (Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Office software have been superseded by Google's Chrome and Docs, and the dominance of Windows on desktop PCs is increasingly irrelevant as computing shifts to mobile devices.)

Referring to the same oligopoly of companies, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt called them the "gang of four" at the D9 conference in 2011: "Obviously, one of them, in my view, is Google, the other three being Apple, Amazon, and Facebook." Schmidt and Jared Cohen discussed the same four brands in their book The New Digital Age: "We believe that modern technology platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, are even more powerful than most people realize, and our future world will be profoundly altered by their adoption and successfulness in societies everywhere."

The Economist (on 1st December 2012) also highlighted the same quartet: "THE four giants of the internet age - Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon - are extraordinary creatures. Never before has the world seen firms grow so fast or spread their tentacles so widely." (The tentacle metaphor was repeated in a cartoon by David Parkins on the magazine's cover, with the companies depicted as giant squid.) Later that month (on Boxing Day 2012), The Wall Street Journal also assessed the rivalry between the same four firms: "Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon".

Farhad Manjoo made the same point in Fast Company (in November 2011): "Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon battle for the future". In a New York Times column (on 21st January 2016), Manjoo added Microsoft to the group: "There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, now a unit of a parent company called Alphabet. And there's one more, Microsoft, whose influence once looked on the wane, but which is now rebounding." Manjoo calls them "the Frightful Five" and his 6th May New York Times column was illustrated with an animation by Doug Chayka showing a raft formed from the five logos.

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