Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Four

The Four
The Economist
The New York Times
Financial 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 Nick Bilton (author of Hatching Twitter) makes the same point in the current (November) issue of Vanity Fair: "The four horsemen of the coming economic apocalypse - Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook - have already flattened entire industries."

Galloway's book is similar to Charles Arthur's Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet, and in case anyone was wondering about Microsoft, Galloway argues that it was "the original horseman." (MS Office, Internet Explorer, and Hotmail have been superseded by Google's Docs, Chrome, and Gmail, and computing is shifting from Windows to Android and iOS.)

Referring to the same tech oligopoly, 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 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".

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 metaphor was repeated in a cartoon by David Parkins, depicting the companies as giant squid.) The Wall Street Journal (on Boxing Day 2012) 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 The New York Times (on 21st January 2016), he added Microsoft to the group: "There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google... 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 featured an illustration by Doug Chayka showing a raft formed from the five logos. A photomontage by James Ferguson in the Financial Times yesterday showed the same five as UFOs over New York.

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