Amazon, Apple, Facebook, And Google should be broken up.
December 17, 2017 6:59 AM   Subscribe

"We break these guys up because we are capitalists" At Business Insider's IGNITION conference, Scott Galloway gave a blistering presentation on why "The Big Four" — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google — should be broken up.

This is worth 30 minutes of your time.
posted by mecran01 (119 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apple Tim Cook: "....pays every dollar it owes in every country around the world," including tax in the U.S. at the standard rate of 35% and an effective rate of 21% on foreign earnings.

Tim Cook is a liar. 252 billion dollars, according to the Paradise Papers, are stashed by apple offshore, that pays little to no tax.

4.3 trillion dollars of US corporate money is hidden away.

Yes, break them up.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:36 AM on December 17, 2017 [59 favorites]


This but Disney also
posted by beerperson at 7:46 AM on December 17, 2017 [58 favorites]


Break them up. And if Apple can't think of anything better to do with that mountain of cash than roll around on it like goddamn Smaug, let's take it and give it to somebody with better ideas.
posted by zjacreman at 7:49 AM on December 17, 2017 [51 favorites]


Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast also make appearances on my list.
posted by box at 7:53 AM on December 17, 2017 [52 favorites]


Tim Cook told the absolute minimum truth: they technically don't owe taxes on that money, given current laws.

He's also being willfully disingenuous and stretching the definition of 'truth' to a degree only a Republican politician could appreciate.
posted by Kelrichen at 7:53 AM on December 17, 2017 [27 favorites]


Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast also make appearances on my list.

These we shouldn't "break up" so much as "nationalize."
posted by zjacreman at 7:54 AM on December 17, 2017 [85 favorites]


NATIONALIZE ALL THE THINGS
SIEZE ALL THE MEANS
LOSE ALL THE CHAINS
posted by entropicamericana at 7:58 AM on December 17, 2017 [62 favorites]


What about the Wall Street banks?
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:58 AM on December 17, 2017 [9 favorites]


nationalize iphones
posted by beerperson at 7:59 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are at the front of the line fighting Amazon, Apple, Facebook, And Google.

And they are NOT doing so for our benefit.

The enemy of your enemy is not your friend. And there are no friends among the megacorps.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:00 AM on December 17, 2017 [25 favorites]


I find this sort of thing very conflicting. On the one hand, I'm a fairly strong believer in free markets (not necessarily capitalism, though) and companies of this size are definitely a risk to the proper function of markets. However, I have yet to see evidence of abusive monopolistic practices on the part of Google and Amazon. (That is not the case for the big telecoms, which are blatantly abusing their oligopoly) Stuff I don't care for, yes, but not market manipulation. I also feel like I have no business telling them what to do so long as they are following the law.

I'd rather just tax the shit out of them to the point where it is more profitable to self-dismember once a company grows too large than force said breakup no matter what, even in the absence of wrongdoing. Then, if someone has some particular desire to own a giant company they can do that, they just don't get to keep any of the proceeds in excess of some reasonable amount.
posted by wierdo at 8:00 AM on December 17, 2017 [13 favorites]


I have yet to see evidence of abusive monopolistic practices on the part of Google and Amazon

what do you think monopolistic practices look like
posted by beerperson at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2017 [58 favorites]


Man, I remember when you couldn’t give Macs away and now there’s talk of breaking up Apple. How would you break it up, though? It’s basically the iPhone company with some vanity products. Splitting off the iOS and Mac into two separate companies seems logical, but that doesn’t solve the problem.
posted by Automocar at 8:05 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


It would take courage.
posted by 7segment at 8:07 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


I can think of plenty of monopolistic behavior. Remember when Google deranked ask.metafilter, destroying the profitability of this website and burying one of the best question/answer depositories on the web?

I really wonder what can be done with such tight controls by these companies over mobile devices these days. There’s not even a realistic option outside the big 5. Plenty to mull over here.
posted by cyphill at 8:09 AM on December 17, 2017 [43 favorites]


In the case of Apple, I think you have to split their hardware and services divisions. The iTunes company would still make an iOS compatible app, but it wouldn't be the default installed on their 1bn devices around the world. Similar to when Microsoft was ascendant but you were not locked in to Internet Explorer as the default browser upon installing the OS.

I imagine the case would be similar for Google's Ad, Search and Hardware Businesses. Amazon's cloud services, content, and retail businesses. Facebook's ad, messaging and social businesses.

There's a great point about these entities loving to refer to themselves as "platforms." Creating platforms for others to create businesses inside of is surely a valuable thing for which a company rightfully can charge rents and derive profit. That's not what's happening here. They own the platform and they compete inside of it. What a mess.
posted by goHermGO at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


What does "Break Them Up" even mean? What is it, ninety-plus percent of Google's revenue comes from selling ads against their search results? Whatcha gonna split, that makes any real difference?
posted by twsf at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2017 [13 favorites]


How would you break it up, though?

One small way would be to split off iTunes. And Amazon’s streaming service. And YouTube / the media part of Google Play.
posted by jedicus at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


Also, if NN is going away for good, I need Google (and even Facebook and Microsoft!) to survive a few more years. They're busily working on things that will assist any workarounds that may prove to be necessary once the ISPs implement their slow boil policies.

But yes, the telecoms should be mostly dismembered yesterday. It's utter bullshit that we broke up the old at&t and then promptly allowed their parts and everyone else to consolidate into abusive monopolies because why would we need regulation since we broke them up? (Also the media giants who have slowly been chipping away at ownership rules, which is directly responsible for the dearth of alternative views in popular media)
posted by wierdo at 8:19 AM on December 17, 2017 [12 favorites]


iTunes is about 10% of Apple's gross revenue, maybe less. Google doesn't really break out YouTube numbers, but there are many who question if they're even breaking even yet on that service. The majority of both companies successes are based on a few central product lines.

Unless you're talking a one to many, bell to baby bells type breakup, I'm not certain how that would work. At least with the old telephone monopolies, there were geographic divisions. I don't know how you'd go about breaking Apple into multiple iOS device companies, for example, or selling off Google's search business in chunks.
posted by bonehead at 8:32 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


However, I have yet to see evidence of abusive monopolistic practices on the part of Google and Amazon.

Are you kidding? Right at this moment Google, Amazon and Apple are fighting each other over advertising and selling their products on their monopolistic platforms.
posted by JackFlash at 8:37 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


Start with the freaking banks, man. They’ve already proven to be a clear and present danger to our national solvency. Vampiric squids with blood funnels, etc.

It’s not theoretical, with them. If they’re “too big to fail” then they’re too big to exist.
posted by darkstar at 8:39 AM on December 17, 2017 [24 favorites]


Actually it's a design flaw with the capitalist system, but I don't expect a magazine called 'Business Insider' to start calling for people to man the barricades.
posted by The River Ivel at 8:41 AM on December 17, 2017 [23 favorites]


iTunes is about 10% of Apple's gross revenue, maybe less

Yes, but having tight integration and exclusivity with iTunes is a major driver of iOS device sales (and Mac sales, to a lesser extent). It’s only going to get worse as Apple and Google continue their push into original content creation.

The end game is a tightly vertically integrated network of content creation, distribution, and consumption. The traditional media companies are doing the same thing.
posted by jedicus at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


The fact that there are many competing platforms conflicts with calling any of them monopolistic. Abusive of privacy? Absolutely, to a greater or lesser degree. But monopolistic? No, or at least not yet.
posted by wierdo at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2017 [7 favorites]


What does "Break Them Up" even mean? What is it, ninety-plus percent of Google's revenue comes from selling ads against their search results? Whatcha gonna split, that makes any real difference?

When Standard Oil was broken up, all of the resulting parts sold oil.

If Google is broken up, all of the resulting parts will sell advertising. And compete against each other. That's the purpose of breaking companies up.
posted by clawsoon at 9:02 AM on December 17, 2017 [38 favorites]


weirdo: However, I have yet to see evidence of abusive monopolistic practices on the part of Google and Amazon.

You forget the anti-poaching agreements.

And you don't have to look too far to find examples of Amazon practising predatory pricing. You can... uh... Google it.
posted by clawsoon at 9:09 AM on December 17, 2017 [17 favorites]


Scott Galloway is trying to sell his latest book. I don't buy the monopoly argument. Each of these companies has a chunk of the various markets. It is by definition not a monopoly.

They've gamed the tax code, and they have ridiculous capital reserves that do not benefit society. I don't see how breaking them up changes that. We need to drastically increase our taxation and spend that money on infrastructure in order to reverse the process.

Breaking them up plays into the Republican "war on the coasts" framework. Taxing and spending on labor is a classic Liberal/Democratic play. Which is to say we might see the former, but we will not see the latter.

In any event I'm not sure why self proclaimed liberals and progressives would listen to an avowed capitalist who is pushing a right wing argument to sell his book.
posted by pdoege at 9:12 AM on December 17, 2017 [27 favorites]


I can think of plenty of monopolistic behavior.

google reader, RIP. never forget. *crying eagle
posted by eustatic at 9:12 AM on December 17, 2017 [16 favorites]


The fact that there are many competing platforms conflicts with calling any of them monopolistic.

Where "many" means, like, two. Depending on which market you're talking about: Apple or Google. Apple or Microsoft. AT&T or Comcast.

Linux isn't really competitive with Apple or Microsoft outside of server applications. Time Warner is a distant third behind AT&T and Comcast.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


And anyway the vertical monopolies most of these companies have is the most concerning thing.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:15 AM on December 17, 2017 [14 favorites]


Locking you into a particular technology that you grow to depend on for work or pleasure and then screwing it up for no apparent reason making your work and life frustrating and difficult is my working definition of a monopoly. That and a lack of choice to get around these frustrations. Apple. Choice is the key. Once upon a time we had a large range of choices. Now we get to choose from a handful of mediocre things. Or worse. Sturgeon's law of technology. I don't see any way out of this situation except maybe no longer falling for that promised drug of technology. If you depend on somebody else's products to be fulfilled you're eventually going to be in trouble.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Eminent domain/compulsory purchase/resumption/expropriation. The US government should simply take them (or parts of them) like they would take a piece of land and give investors fair market value minus all the taxes they've avoided.

Then the government could decide whether and how to break them up. Maybe permanently nationalize some parts of them as public utilities and sell off other parts.
posted by pracowity at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Apple has a very odd kind of monopoly – a monopoly of taste. If you like Apple products, you have to buy them from Apple, and they’ll work best with other Apple products. But Apple doesn’t sell any category of product you can’t easily get from another company, so their leverage is irrelevant to regulators.
posted by nicwolff at 9:44 AM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


nationalize iphones

An opaque device with a government mandate which I'm obliged to carry everywhere and may be reporting on my movements and conversations? Ick.
posted by Coventry at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2017 [11 favorites]


The problem with an Apple or Google break-up is that it involves creating silos (services, hardware, software for Apple; search, utilities, Android, media, grab bag for Google) and then lumbering them with vast, complex injunctions that prohibit them from either competing with or favoring their formerly fraternal silos AND compelling them to license from and to all comers -- hard to run any business that way. For example, Apple Hardware Co. to be meaningful has to be compelled to produce a Windows computer and an Android phone -- how do you manage that?
posted by MattD at 9:54 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


i'm not so sure i want to trust the government with owning the internet, especially right now

i have a facebook account and can't for the life of me figure out what i'm supposed to do with it aside from exhibit my personal life to people who aren't interested - people are going to figure out eventually that facebook isn't that useful

apple doesn't have a monopoly, not even on my desk

google and amazon are too big, but i don't know exactly what the solution is
posted by pyramid termite at 9:59 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


For example, Apple Hardware Co. to be meaningful has to be compelled to produce a Windows computer and an Android phone -- how do you manage that?

Well, with your Intel-powered Mac all you do is use BootCamp and you can install Windows.

And after jail-breaking an iPhone, getting Android to run on it isn't impossible, you know.

There, done.

Soooooo hard to manage. /s

The point is just, if there are free tools out there allowing consumers to do what you just claimed was so hard for a hardware company to do, it must not actually be all that hard.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:01 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Speaking of Windows, why has no one mentioned Microsoft? At one time, there were loud calls for it to be broken up as a monopoly. Not now?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:01 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


An opaque device with a government mandate which I'm obliged to carry everywhere and may be reporting on my movements and conversations? Ick.

nationalize 1890s paranoiac evangelical eschatological accelerationist fantasies
posted by beerperson at 10:03 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Windows as a service should absolutely be the reason to break up Microsoft.

Break it up into what?

To butcher a quote from JFK:

"splinter Microsoft in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."
posted by deadaluspark at 10:03 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


if you watch the video, it is mentioned as #5
posted by eustatic at 10:04 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


What about Microsoft?
posted by miyabo at 10:04 AM on December 17, 2017


For example, Apple Hardware Co. to be meaningful has to be compelled to produce a Windows computer and an Android phone -- how do you manage that?

The flipside is also true: Dell and Lenovo and Samsung need to be able to make MacOS and iOS products too. "Galaxy for iOS" would need to be a thing. Compulsory, non-discriminatory licencing and/or FRAND-like patent pooling might be a way to blunt the dominance of an Apple, Google or Samsung without actually going through a Bell or Standard Oil type breakup. Lower the cost of entry and remove the patent and IP threats, both for software and hardware.
posted by bonehead at 10:07 AM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


jedicus : "iTunes is about 10% of Apple's gross revenue, maybe less

Yes, but having tight integration and exclusivity with iTunes is a major driver of iOS device sales (and Mac sales, to a lesser extent). It’s only going to get worse as Apple and Google continue their push into original content creation.

The end game is a tightly vertically integrated network of content creation, distribution, and consumption. The traditional media companies are doing the same thing.
"

Not to mention the fact that, as I understand it, that ifuckingTunes is a critical utility component for being able to back up and update iPhones. Just making SURE every Apple users has iTunes installed, so you can get those opportunistic impulse sales. (Yeah, I am still living up to my rep of being famously bitter about the PowerPC/Intel debacle leaving me with two expensive computers I don't dare to put online, thus giving me two expensive and very sexy doorstops/paperweights). In fact, I won't own a Mac any more because of the lockin into the Apple ecosystem.
posted by Samizdata at 10:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


The flipside is also true: Dell and Lenovo and Samsung need to be able to make MacOS and iOS products too.

The only thing blocking this is patents and copyrights. Since they all use essentially the same underlying chip architecture (x86 64-bit for desktops/laptops and ARM/ARM64 for mobile) the ability to run one OS on other hardware has technically been there for quite a while (mostly since Apple dumped making their own chips). You've been able to build your own Mac from off-the-shelf PC parts for several years now (yes, the supported products are limited, but they're far less limited than they were before the switchover to Intel processors.).
posted by deadaluspark at 10:17 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


deadaluspark : "For example, Apple Hardware Co. to be meaningful has to be compelled to produce a Windows computer and an Android phone -- how do you manage that?

Well, with your Intel-powered Mac all you do is use BootCamp and you can install Windows.

And after jail-breaking an iPhone, getting Android to run on it isn't impossible, you know.

There, done.

Soooooo hard to manage. /s

The point is just, if there are free tools out there allowing consumers to do what you just claimed was so hard for a hardware company to do, it must not actually be all that hard.
"

Yeah, no. Thanks to the PowerPC thing, I wouldn't own a Mac if you handed me one free of charge. And I tried helping a friend setup Windows on their Mac with BootCamp. It never ended up working.

Oh, wait. That was hamburger, gotcha. Never mind the idiot in the corner. Nothing to see here. Move along.
posted by Samizdata at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2017


Samizdata: iTunes has not been required to update iPhones in a while. You can also back up to iCloud, but that is still an Apple service, so.

Genuine question: How do you back up Android phones without involving Google?
posted by inparticularity at 10:18 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Genuine question: How do you back up Android phones without involving Google?

There's multiple ways available.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


nationalize 1890s paranoiac evangelical eschatological accelerationist fantasies

Surveillance dictatorship concerns were expressed in the 1890s? I want to read those. Where should I look?
posted by Coventry at 10:23 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


I maintain that if there are consumer-created ways to install other operating systems on specific hardware then everyone is being ridiculous acting like getting companies to create the same tools for OS'es from other companies is too much to ask. It's not. They absolutely can do it. It's far from impossible. Most of the tools already exist. Most of the tools (barring BootCamp, mostly) were created by people not getting paid for their work. If a group of volunteers can put Android on an iPhone, then people getting paid to do the same job abso-fucking-lutely could do the same.

As others have pointed out, the real aim is ecosystem lock-in.
posted by deadaluspark at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


There's multiple ways available

That is a bullshit elitist techie answer and you know it. None of the options at that link work on stock Android, and based on the descriptions of the process, none of them would be useful when you want to restore to different hardware.

The problem is not the companies, it is the laws and regulations (more precisely the lack thereof) which allowed them to get to this point that is the problem.
posted by inparticularity at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


Sure break them up, but you may have to set up protectionist measures too, because Samsung (#2 biggest tech company by revenue) or Tencent (possibly worth as much or more than Facebook now) or some other global competitor will try to scoop up the broken pieces.

Now, I don't mind that myself as long as it's not monopolistic, but I really don't want to see sensationalist American headlines like "Why is the government letting foreigners buy up our INTERNET!?" and go through another round of xenophobia.
posted by FJT at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


I think the amazon/google vertical stacks are too big and that amazon needs to be split into three companies: 1. distribution, 2. sales, 3. cloud and that google needs to be broken up into three as well: 1. search + ads, 2. sales (flights, shopping, hotels and vacation rentals, etc) and 3. cloud.

I think that would do well to allow competitors to grow and innovate in those spaces.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2017 [13 favorites]


That is a bullshit elitist techie answer and you know it. None of the options at that link work on stock Android, and based on the descriptions of the process, none of them would be useful when you want to restore to different hardware.

I wasn't trying to say it like it meant it was a perfect solution for everyone. I keep seeing people in here act like expecting these companies to put together similar tools (tools that were made for free by volunteers) is asking too much and I think that's stupid.

Basically, we agree, that there is nothing preventing them from developing the tools (most of which already exist, created by nerds in their spare time), and the only reason they don't is because of a series of laws that allow them to get away with anti-competitive bullshit.

That being said, I am far from a real techie, I wouldn't know how to build one of these tools from scratch to save my fucking life, but I seriously am thankful for all the work the people who do know how to do it put in developing tools so dumbasses like me can get out from under the thumb of companies like Google and Apple.

(So really, I don't know how my dumb-ass using pre-built tools created by other people is a "bullshit elitist techie" answer, but what the fuck ever, dude.)
posted by deadaluspark at 10:40 AM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


As far as apple goes I think they need the US government to grow a pair and make a tax policy that’s not a fearful cowering giveaway to the ultra-rich.

So Apple...their largess is because our country is run by assholes.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:43 AM on December 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


Whatcha gonna split, that makes any real difference?

There is a thing I'm not seeing here
posted by rhizome at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


252 billion dollars, according to the Paradise Papers

And according to their public filings. Although that doesn't have the same oomph as "according to the Panama Papers.
posted by jpe at 10:52 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


As far as Apple is concerned, any talk of a monopoly is utter nonsense. For market share, it's not even close on any front. For vertical integration, it's virtually all optional. Sure, if you have an iDevice, you can integrate it vertically, but in no way are you obliged to. For example, on my iPhone, the only Apple services I use are iMessage and iCloud Backup. Both are by choice. iMessage I could replace with Whatsapp any day if I chose to. iCloud Backup is basically an invisible convenience feature and not a service with a meaningful user-facing frontend.

For everything else on my phone: Music? Spotify, not Apple Music. TV/Movies? Netflix, no intention of getting Apple's TV service. Photos? Local sync to my Mac, no Photo Stream or iCloud Photo Library. Files in the cloud? Dropbox, not iCloud Drive. Passwords? 1Password, not iCloud Keychain.

In recent iOS versions, Apple has made interoperability between iOS and 3rd party software and services significantly easier and more full-featured. None of their vertical integration services are forced on the user.

As a consumer, I wouldn't want to see them broken up because the way the company is structured right now is instrumental to what their products are (warts and all; their hardware is top notch as ever but their software quality is wobbly at the moment). Anybody who thinks that a broken-up Apple could produce as good a set of products as the current iteration is talking out of their ass and has no idea how the company works. And unlike Google, Amazon and Facebook, they're not fucking creeps whose business model relies on mining your personal information.
posted by jklaiho at 11:12 AM on December 17, 2017 [18 favorites]


At the current rate of optimization, oligopolies will develop regardless, and breaking things up is an empty threat not an actually effective tool for competition at this point.

Adjust the tax code to no longer externalize the real cost of consolidation - you bridge a new vertical, you pay into the revenue center for the safety net commensurate with the risk you create of market abuses. Effectively, presume guilt proportional to your capacity for harm not if you abuse your (or other oligopolists') market position but when. The same bucket taxes would go but not based on location of incorporation but rather market.

In short, market abuses are inevitable and entrenched interests simply declaw relevant enforcers. So come at them from the insurance angle and make their oligopolies work in the public interest such that the best way to game the system is to not actually grow so big you're taxed thus, but when you do it's not creating a giant money vacuum with the public on the hook.
posted by abulafa at 11:13 AM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


(So really, I don't know how my dumb-ass using pre-built tools created by other people is a "bullshit elitist techie" answer, but what the fuck ever, dude.)

Sorry if I was a bit tetchy there, but my (real-life) litmus test is that I need to be able to walk my mom through the process over the phone. I'm glad you found a solution that works for you. However it would not work for me, nor my mom, and the way you tossed it out like it was obvious irked me.
posted by inparticularity at 11:14 AM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


Speaking to the point of this post, in my opinion capitalism is the root of the problem. If your reasoning for doing something is capitalism, then it's probably not the right thing to do.

Why do we have these problems in the first place? Capitalism! How are you going to fix them with more capitalism!?! I like money, don't get me wrong, but the capitalist view that any option or action that gets you more money is always the correct course needs to die. People first, money at some later point to be determined.
posted by inparticularity at 11:22 AM on December 17, 2017 [18 favorites]


you bridge a new vertical, you pay into the revenue center for the safety net commensurate with the risk you create of market abuses

Is this a thing that is ever actuaried?
posted by rhizome at 11:23 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


However it would not work for me, nor my mom, and the way you tossed it out like it was obvious irked me.

Hey, it happens, no worries.

People first, money at some later point to be determined.

This.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:25 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Break them up and Nationalize them are calls by people who don't understand basic economics.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:25 AM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Break them up and Nationalize them are calls by people who don't understand basic economics.

And you're saying the world in which inequality is spiraling out of control thanks to the endless input of said economists is totally fine?

How many economists forced austerity measures endlessly even when it was apparent the only people being helped by those measures were the already absurdly rich?

It seems to me like economists don't understand basic economics. Because they constantly say it's all going according to plan, and well, if this is the plan, it's total and utter bullshit and worthless to 99% of the people on the planet.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:28 AM on December 17, 2017 [32 favorites]


I can think of plenty of monopolistic behavior. Remember when Google deranked ask.metafilter, destroying the profitability of this website and burying one of the best question/answer depositories on the web?

Even if you broke up vertical monopolies like Adwords, Search, and Adsense into separate companies, you'd still have gotten that result. When your input is the internet, any change in sorting algorithm is going to have unintended consequences, and separating out Adsense doesn't change the profit incentive of the Search product.

Now, the alternative model would be to divide Google into multiple companies starting with the exact same product. Ten Googles with their own branch of search. Under that model, you'd get even more chaos as they compete to improve search rankings and occupy separate niches. If you think getting pagerank is hard with just the one Google, think about how Pagerank would diverge over time with Googles 1 through 10.

If anything, folks at the top of the organic rankings want a stagnant, placid search engine with no incentive to change. Which is one of society's concerns about monopolies: they have no business motive to make any improvements.

The people who would benefit from more search engine competition are the suppliers: companies that sell traffic to search engines. Think browsers and phones. Every time Mozilla introduces a new bidder into the default search engine placement, the auction price goes up. Having 10 Google's each more desperate for traffic than the next would be fantastic for browsers, even ones with declining market share.
posted by pwnguin at 11:41 AM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Now, on breaking up Amazon, I honestly think HQ2 signals they're preparing to spin off AWS. When people like Scott commingle Amazon the retailer with Amazon the company, you end up projecting AWS PE multiples into the retail space. It's absolutely true that Amazon.com has slashed retailer margins, to the sector's overall detriment (and consumer's benefit).

AWS is already getting flack for it's high profits subsidizing retail -- companies like Wal-Mart and Nordstroms refuse to do business with AWS on principle. If AWS broke off from the retail arm, AWS would instantly have a new market to grow into. It's true that the spin off would give Amazon a massive influx of cash to compete against retailers with, but as separate companies that boat would have already sailed, and any future business with AWS wouldn't fall into Amazon coffers.
posted by pwnguin at 11:52 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


inparticularity : "Samizdata: iTunes has not been required to update iPhones in a while. You can also back up to iCloud, but that is still an Apple service, so.

Genuine question: How do you back up Android phones without involving Google?
"

I did not know that. I pretty much ditched tracking Apple stuff since the Great Mac Schism (other than idiotic security holes, so I can cackle).
posted by Samizdata at 11:52 AM on December 17, 2017


Break them up and Nationalize them are calls by people who don't understand basic economics.

Economists are well aware of the economic problems caused by monopolies. Breaking companies up in order to maintain competition is a reasonable economic response in the normal case; nationalizing (or heavy regulation) is a reasonable response when there's a natural monopoly.
posted by clawsoon at 11:53 AM on December 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


It seems to me like economists don't understand basic economics. Because they constantly say it's all going according to plan, and well, if this is the plan, it's total and utter bullshit and worthless to 99% of the people on the planet.

Economists of the sort that politicians like tend to come from upper economic strata themselves. Working as intended.
posted by Foosnark at 11:58 AM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


[A few comments removed. I like a good Swiftian-but-is-it proposal as much as the next person but maaaaybe let's skip the whole "here's how the beheadings will proceed" sidebar.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:18 PM on December 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


Bah. You're no fun! :[
posted by sexyrobot at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


sexyrobot : "Bah. You're no fun! :["

You know, you live in a country without net neutrality. You MIGHT want to rethink your approach there.
posted by Samizdata at 12:24 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


A country without net neutrality and a wide surveillance net that specifically targets people who advocate for violence against their own governments as "potential terrorists."

Maybe you should save that kind of discussion for a website with a little more anonymity, maybe even save it for venting on a Tor-only-accessible forum.

If not for your sake, but maybe for the sake of all the people within three hops of you.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:50 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I liked this guys message, but he's kind of a huge douchebag with his evo psych Masters of the Universe 2.0 posturing.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:15 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Amazon has hardware services, hosting services, big data services, warehousing services, delivery services, consumer goods services, food delivery, multiple vendors, data science services, consulting services, add services, b2b services, b2c services, and so on and so on. Oh, and they have potentially self driving technology, drone technology and a host of other things that they work on.

If you think that Amazon is not part of your life, I'm curious whether or not that is actually true - and/or what they indirectly serve you. (Do they host your business directly, or even a web service you pay to use?) My question is: even if you have attempted to disentagle yourself from them - how much do they really know about you (rhetorical answer: a lot).

Oh, and even when we talk about AWS and hosting and that end of stuff that big businesses use for modeling - where data storage is 'free' (and they charge to run models on your own data) - yeah... lets just say holy shit - amazon knows *everything* about you and is making money off of you hand over fist.

Multiply that by Microsoft, Apple, Google, and even to lesser extent *every single wireless carrier* and well...

There is no 'do no evil' or 'playing fair' that these companies are capable of.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:23 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


deadaluspark : "A country without net neutrality and a wide surveillance net that specifically targets people who advocate for violence against their own governments as "potential terrorists."

Maybe you should save that kind of discussion for a website with a little more anonymity, maybe even save it for venting on a Tor-only-accessible forum.

If not for your sake, but maybe for the sake of all the people within three hops of you.
"

Sadly, I have a big enough mouth and have been online long enough, anyone 5 hops out is prolly on watchlists...
posted by Samizdata at 1:32 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Uhhh....anyone else get that internal server error response page?

WE ARE JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE MODEST PROPSAL DEAR THREE LETTER ACRONYMS! Hahahaha nothing to see here....
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


deadaluspark : "The flipside is also true: Dell and Lenovo and Samsung need to be able to make MacOS and iOS products too.

The only thing blocking this is patents and copyrights Apple's rabid lawyer corps. Since they all use essentially the same underlying chip architecture (x86 64-bit for desktops/laptops and ARM/ARM64 for mobile) the ability to run one OS on other hardware has technically been there for quite a while (mostly since Apple dumped making their own chips). You've been able to build your own Mac from off-the-shelf PC parts for several years now (yes, the supported products are limited, but they're far less limited than they were before the switchover to Intel processors.).
"

FTFY. Someday when I have enough cash to spare, I might make a Hackintosh, but only to be all "Fuck Da POlice".
posted by Samizdata at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2017


Are the sharks complaining again that the whales need to be cut into bite-sized pieces?
posted by allium cepa at 1:53 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Search engines drive so much now. And the big confusing stew of commerce and information and culture makes them a mess. The indexing of human culture is of value to everyone. It'd be great if it could be owned by some supra-national body, but that seems unlikely to happen in the near future.

Failing that, at a national level in the US, give it to the Library of Congress. Increase their funding, funding security, and autonomy. Let Google run what amounts to a giant meta-catalog of commercial products.

Admittedly, sorting out the boundary of commerce vs culture and knowledge is a thorny subject. Perhaps start from the point of view that information about products no longer available or from defunct entities are worth indexing and archiving.
posted by allium cepa at 2:00 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Someday when I have enough cash to spare, I might make a Hackintosh, but only to be all "Fuck Da POlice".

You don't need a lot of cash. My hackintoshes are all a few years old at this point, the components in them would be cheap, now, and it all works fine and continues to beat anything Apple is offering aside from the high end Pros that are hideously expensive.

Take a look at previous years' build guides on tonymac.

Here's last year's December guide.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:15 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


he's kind of a huge douchebag with his evo psych Masters of the Universe 2.0 posturing.

I missed that because I just downloaded the audio. Now I'll have to go back and watch.
posted by Coventry at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


He's soapboxing at Business Insider's equivalent of a TED talk. It comes with the territory.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:41 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Genuine question: How do you back up Android phones without involving Google?

Most of these apps should exist somewhere outside of the Google Play Store.

Depends on what you need to back up.

Photos, contacts? Simply plug it into a computer, load it in USB drive mode and transfer files. No app or cloud needed. And with newer android devices (I think 4.0 and up you don't even need a computer for this. You can plug a USB flash drive or memory card right into the USB port, set your phone to USB host and transfer files directly to the memory without a computer at all.

Like, you don't even need a removable SD card expansion slot.

Contact lists? Export to vcard. No app required. Export to PC or directly to memory card.

SMS messages? Use Carbonite. Export to PC or directly to memory card.

Offline email archives? There's a number of ways to do this, even with gmail/google integration. You can access your gmail account with any compatible email client and download all of your messages to offline. Also, you don't even have to use gmail on an android, you can use a number of android email clients and add any POP3 or SMTP client information to them. Export to PC and/or memory card, etc.

Want to back up your installed apps and avoid restoring from the Play Store? App Backup and Restore.

Want to freeze and backup your whole phone? Titanium Backup or Ultimate Backup.


It looks like its getting a little harder to avoid the Play Store to get APKs, but you can still exist outside of Google's systems when using Android. You don't need their cloud services to backup, set up or use an Android device.

Yes, it's a little more work - but that's the selling point of cloud backups and device management, is that you (ostensibly) don't have to think about it, it just happens. No, it's not likely to ever be as easy as cloud backups because of how integrated cloud storage works.

None of these backup and management routines are very difficult or complicated compared to the traditional non-cloud management routines that people used to have to practice all the time with regular old home computing.

And, well, ask a former Palm Pilot owner how many hoops they used to have to jump through to safely manage and backup their Palm Pilot data. That stupid HotSync application was severely brain damaged sometimes.
posted by loquacious at 3:25 PM on December 17, 2017 [9 favorites]


Also, argument from convenience/nicethings has always been how great evils are rationalized.
posted by polymodus at 3:32 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


I love my apple toys but giant companies (and banks, ESPECIALLY banks) should be broken up.
Especially internet service providers, who at least in Denver, have defacto monopolies .
posted by evilDoug at 3:33 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh, did that sound a hair socialist? Horrors.
posted by evilDoug at 3:34 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Right at this moment Google, Amazon and Apple are fighting each other over advertising and selling their products on their monopolistic platforms.

Yet I walk into Target and there on the shelf is a Fire TV sitting next to a couple of kinds of Chromecast, a couple different Rokus, and an NVidia Shield TV. Over at Best Buy they carry the same stuff just with an Apple TV in place of the Fire TV.

As far as using Android without Google, you can replace every sync provider, the launcher, and damn near everything else with stuff available on the play store, the Amazon app store, or one of several others, all without root. You need not be LG or Samsung to customize your Android device however you desire.

And as long as Google continues to allow me to view and delete all of the data associated with me, I'll continue to be fine with them collecting it in exchange for the many services they provide to me.
posted by wierdo at 3:46 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


Even AWS fails as an example of a monopoly, come to think of it. It's a worse example than most, really. There are literally hundreds of providers offering similar services, several on a large enough scale to be considered actual competition. Only two of which are Google and Microsoft.

If you expand your view overseas, it looks even worse for the monopoly thesis.

(I admit that Apple could be considered a vertical monopoly, but it seems self enforced by its own customers since others sell competitive devices without those limitations)
posted by wierdo at 3:50 PM on December 17, 2017


JackFlash: Are you kidding? Right at this moment Google, Amazon and Apple are fighting each other over advertising and selling their products on their monopolistic platforms.

Apple barely does anything with selling ads on their platforms. There's some stuff sold through the Apple News app and in the iOS App Store, but that's it. Opting out is also pretty easy.
posted by SansPoint at 5:37 PM on December 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


Look, AWS as storage - sure... there are hundreds and hundreds of competitors. But, AWS as platform cloud storage for big data? Hahahahahahahahahaha. There are 3. Google, Microsoft and Amazon. When we talk about companies decommissioning legacy IT hardware and porting their data to the cloud - even if you want to use an intermediary like ClearSky or whoever - those 3 have a monopoly on distributed cloud storage architecture today. Gone is the need to build your own hadoop cluster. Gone is the need to build a datacenter, or lease space in a datacenter - EMS? Oracle? Obsolete platforms. If you are buying a rack - you can't scale.

But, off the cloud you also can migrate your platform on your terms to different hardware, not have to pay every time you want to query your data. You can do what you like with it. Now, AWS makes that first point seemingly moot, because theoretically they move you to whatever hardware works the best for you and they spin up another machine (at cost) every time you need better response time. But, for a business like I'm in - there's a huge push to the cloud - and everything that gets pushed to the cloud is done under the guise that it is free(ish). Pay per query and pay per node seems like a pretty reasonable way to query data - until you consider the size and the scope of a fortune 100 (hell even fortune 500) company's internal data. Yes, the cloud eliminates all your Oracle, Terradata, CMS, SQL servers... you eliminate the need for upgrading them, you eliminate your downtime for patches. You eliminate your administration, your replication, your need to send backups to disaster recovery services... look at all that glorious cost savings... its like a D&T consultant just redlined 90% of your IT staff in a single stroke. Then you throw on the analytical tools built in to those platforms, and once again - almost any moron can make a model that claims to involve machine learning - because that's what the literature says (minus the moron part) - and there goes - well 50% of your Analytics jobs, right? because... why pay for top dollar development when an off the shelf solution maintained by someone who doesn't know how things really work - prevents you from having to hire your own set of PhDs to really build some deep models.

Which means, sloppy models get built. Incomplete models get built. A whole bunch of errors based on a lack of specification are brought into play, and so - rather than detangle the mess, you just develop more models...

And this leads us to that day of reckoning. When that $0.20 a function call (alright, you bulk it up enough to drop the price down to $0.11) on Azure starts to blow up in your face and you consider the millions of customers you are calling that function on... so you stop updating your model as frequently as a cost control on those that don't seem to have an easily optimized ROI - which... well... means you aren't actually learning about how to grow your customer base and understand what works within the context of what doesn't... you only optimize the first degree ROI returns, never looking deeper and considering the longer game...

but there's no going back, because once your data is in the cloud - go ahead, try to figure out how to get it out. I don't mean how to port it over to a different cloud company - those guys will bend over backwards to steal business from each other - but I mean... get it out of the cloud and back onto a system to control the cost...

...which means your data environment is shit...

So yeah, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that Amazon, Google and Microsoft have a monopoly on scaleable cloud based data in a manner that *no other* competitor comes close to. I feel comfortable in saying that this environment and set of tools gives them a long term computational advantage that even small companies are going to have to grapple with very quickly.

I have to build a whole set of custom python libraries to build out for my own data cluster, OR I can just use the canned libraries each of those platforms comes with? Your company's board of directors is beholden to the stock price - and the stock price doesn't understand the long term impact of these business models.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:44 PM on December 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


Seems to me that explicitly breaking giant corporations up is addressing the symptom, not the underlying disease.

The underlying disease is positive feedback, as expressed in the old dictum that it takes money to make money.

It follows from this that in a tax-free market, any entity that controls a lot of resources will soon control a lot more, and this pretty much inevitably ends up with the kind of ridiculous concentrations of wealth we see in the US today.

It seems to me that an approach worth considering would be to apply a countervailing negative feedback: make the rules that define the context in which trading occurs "leaky" by applying a tax to every transaction, at a progressive rate based on the overall economic size of the entity the funds are coming from. The general principle here is that the more resources you already control, the more it should cost you to buy more.

So Apple could continue to have an offshore arm that holds all its intellectual property rights, and the offshore arm could continue to charge the local arm a "licence fee" for the use of that intellectual property at a rate just sufficient to reduce local profits to zero; but the transactions where those licence fees actually get transferred from the local arm to the offshore one would end up heavily taxed because the local arm is still very large.

The rational thing for a local megacorp to do if exposed to such a regime (apart from fighting it tooth and nail on the political front) would be to break itself up. The only way to stay large in any sustainable way would be to move effective control of the entire corporation offshore, at which point it would become possible to apply import tariffs to its local sales; such tariffs would be set at different rates for entities from different countries, and reflect the extent to which those countries are more tax-friendly to their large corporations than is the case locally.

The idea is to make being disproportionately large not illegal, merely very expensive.

And of course there's no reason to treat personal entities any differently from corporate ones here, and there's also no reason why the transaction tax needs to top out at 100%. There is no problem at all with Jeff Bezos being worth a hundred billion if it costs him a million dollars to buy a can of dog food.
posted by flabdablet at 5:45 PM on December 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


He's soapboxing at Business Insider's equivalent of a TED talk. It comes with the territory.

Well, maybe that should change. The talk would be better without the introductory remarks about how you don't get laid with a Swatch and a Discover card. It gets uncomfortably close to PUA horseshit and was reminiscent of Tom Cruise in Magnolia. Thankfully it doesn't linger there for long. But still, apparently that's part of what NYU tuition gets you these days.... :|

The next video that autoplayed was rather more interesting, for my money (and, yes, it was very much about money and I do understand that about Ignition and similar venues):

Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder and CEO Social Capital, on Money as an Instrument of Change


The title is a little innocuous, this is also a stinging indictment of Facebook (which Palihapitiya was a part of from early days).
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:59 PM on December 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


the people who own and run these companies have amassed so much power that you will not dislodge them using their own politicians and the system of government created to manage their affairs. talk of "breaking them up" or nationalizing them or what have you is an utter waste of time, because they won't allow you to do that. conditions will get worse before there's any chance of them getting better.
posted by indubitable at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


If they were good for nothing else, the years 2016 and 2017 have proven that the new aristocrat class doesn't have things quite so well in hand as they'd have liked us to believe. I think you overestimate their power and competence.

This is - or should be, can be - the crisis moment. The old economic, social, and ecological assumptions no longer hold, and the levers of state power are increasingly up for grabs. So let's fuckin' grab 'em.
posted by zjacreman at 8:50 PM on December 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Not sure how AT&T, IBM or Microsoft were any different in that regard. Or Standard Oil for that matter. And the Republican party has demonstrated sufficient cognitive dissonance that they're presumably willing to harm megacorps via the DoJ, as long as they're primarily funding Democrats.
posted by pwnguin at 8:51 PM on December 17, 2017


Aside from Microsoft, which it could be argued was a holdover from the past; the last gasp of a dying system, and Standard Oil, which was Teddy's personal bugaboo, the remainder of those actions took place while the post-WWII consensus was still in place. The elites realized that with social democratic states on the rise in Europe and the competition with communism they had to at least publicly appear to be working in service of the community and within the law.

The mask began to fall off during the Reagan years and completely disintegrated after 9/11. They have no need to hide any longer, so they don't.
posted by wierdo at 9:08 PM on December 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Nothing exceeds like excess. -Raven
posted by fairmettle at 11:15 PM on December 17, 2017


I liked the video in the OP. I think he plays the doucheness for semi-justifiable reasons in the context of the talk. I think he makes interesting points, and I think we have to pay a ton more attention to those big 4.

That said..

Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder and CEO Social Capital, on Money as an Instrument of Change


I'm only half way in, but that is an absolutely astonishing interview/talk. Fantastic!
posted by Chuckles at 12:50 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


Nothing exceeds like excess. -Raven
posted by fairmettle


Oh that's SO Raven....
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:59 AM on December 18, 2017


I think taxing by global estimated worth at a punitive rate, with deductions for charitable giving, worker wage increases and investments in other fields of industry is the way to go.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2017


I'd vote to start with the big banks too, actually why even break up or nationalize. Why not kill em outright? We could pay taxes and tax refunds only to credit union accounts at credit unions with fewer than 100k customers, and give every citizen an initial bonus for the trouble of opening a credit union account. Voila.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:33 AM on December 18, 2017


The idea that all, or even most credit unions are particularly good is bizarre to me. There are still thousands of smallish community minded commercial banks around, though consolidation has cut their number drastically. Conversely, there are thousands of credit unions with policies that would seem right out of Bank of America or Wells Fargo's playbook. (Or worse, like one banking relationship I'm currently in the process of extricating myself from) There are also many that are far better than the average commercial bank.

My point is that it isn't the ownership structure that matters, it's the regulation we apply to force all the banks and credit unions to act like the good ones that matters. There was a time when it was against the law to charge 36% APR on a loan or charge overdraft fees that have an effective APR of 1000% and up, among many other abusive practices. The lack of opportunity for quick profits led to a very conservative style of management which kept them sound until deregulation.
posted by wierdo at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]


those 3 have a monopoly

Um, that’s not how monopolies work.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:08 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the word this thread needs is oligopoly.
posted by Dysk at 9:09 AM on December 18, 2017 [7 favorites]


Anyone else feel an eerie similarity between his 'break them up' catchphrase and its mantra-like cadence and the chorus's echo of 'break them up' back to every social media posting of this clip, and, well, lock her up, the phrase that hypnotized so many so recently?

I've been pro-monopoly-busting for a while, but what I feel is the feeling you get when someone says what you do but in a format, style, and culture that makes your ears perk up and makes you worry that the opinions you hold are going to be perverted and turned into another cartoonish overstatement. His tone, especially, shouts "I'm very good at influencing impressionable people."
posted by tmcw at 9:56 AM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'd be happy if they just put iTunes in a crate and lit it on fire.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]


I am a big fan of credit unions -- at least the ones like the one my money is in here in MA. When my son went off to college in PA, I helped him set up an account at a CU there. It turned out to be every bit as bad as a crappy bank. I don't know why; maybe it's the regulatory climate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:18 AM on December 18, 2017


Anyone else feel an eerie similarity between his 'break them up' catchphrase and its mantra-like cadence and the chorus's echo of 'break them up' back to every social media posting of this clip, and, well, lock her up, the phrase that hypnotized so many so recently?

Probably because both, underneath it all, are driven by a desire to see people in charge in government and business to actually have to suffer under the same uncaring judicial system we have to, and endlessly seeing a specific class being treated with kid gloves anytime they break the law.

I think what happened with Clinton was taking advantage of latent misogyny to capture a group of people who would love to see any politician or banker have any kind of comeuppance for their indiscretions.

I think a lot of those people probably have criminal histories and have been down the road of the police doing anything they can to screw you right back into the system. (I was on probation once. I saw it up close. The entire system is designed to reign you right the fuck back into the system by making every step of the way a literal minefield where one misstep sends you packing.) I think a lot of those people are well aware of just how badly the justice system will screw them when given a chance. They've seen how badly little people get screwed, and they've seen how easily rich people walk away with golden parachutes.

So, deep down, they know something is wrong with the system and they want it to change, but they also know they have no power, so they turn to zealots like Trump who claim to be outside the system and will do exactly what they've been hoping for and remove all the corrupt influence that allows the rich and powerful to get away with it all. (Of course, we all know Trump is exactly like everyone else they hate, they've just been taken for a ride.)

The reason you feel worried about that is because this latent anger at the corruption in our system has been successfully hijacked to attack someone in a position of power (Clinton) with the intent of directly benefiting another person of power (Trump) with no net benefit to anyone who isn't a rich fuck.
posted by deadaluspark at 12:15 PM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]


Huh, so Rackspace doesn't provide compute and storage nodes at scale, among hundreds of others who both have their own DCs and lease. Sure, Amazon has scale, but so do Google and Microsoft and several other large companies. And that doesn't even get into the non-English-speaking world.

It's perfectly possible and reasonable to see where things appear to be headed and do something about that, but calling any of the major tech companies a monopoly at this point is just ridiculous. It does seem that they would, for the most part, be happy enough to carve out a few niches each and hold on to those. Seems like nobody knows which line of business is going to pan out, though.
posted by wierdo at 2:49 PM on December 18, 2017


No, rackspace requires hardware maintenance, bodies to ensure data loaded, security patches, hours of downtime, disaster recovery service, user administration, and so on and so on.

Every increase in your cluster size involves configuration and so on and so on. And each of those involves benefits packages and vacation and time off and so on.

Even with cloud storage solutions *technically* someone to do those things, but they are done on such a scale that guess what - it's fixed cost is distributed across their billing method.

And persononally? I prefer building out an actual cluster and maintaining that architecture internally to avoid those payment models and because I prefer to spend my time learning about failures and pain points and long term monetization / strategy.

So yes, there is still a future for non cloud systems. Heck, I was just at a conference and they reported about 40% of CTO/CIOs had been bit by the cloud and that a non trivial portion were walking back their ambitions over the next year. But, like all things - if Amazon and Google and Microsoft start to fail to make their numbers via their big data platforms, I bet you they have that information being fed into a big data model to make sure they recalibrate their expectations next year

Non big data though - that future is dying, like Cobol, like EDI, like a whole host of languages and formats that are still around... And yes, they will sit be around probably for 20 more years... but... And those methods still exist because they work, and there has even been some stabilization and growth in that skillset's wages, since it is now very much legacy hardware and communications.

And those systems aren't at the forefront of profit for companies that still use them. Those aren't where the companies flex their strategic tools. Thosr are the last vestiges of old company data. The good news? You will be able to find someone who will be able to work on your systems. The bad news is, that's because they were laid off as those systems are decommissioned and converyrd to the cloud in favor of leveraging an EDI to JSON connector. Surprisingly I have seen more the one company that replaced an EDI connector with JSON to EDI to EDI to JSON connector - which is silly, but talks volumes about prioritization of messaging.


Anyway. Sure rackmount away. I'll agree, that for a startup they may be on a virtual machine or they may have built a proof of concept rack... but - you know what? One of two things will happen: they either grow and convert over to the cloud, or they don't grow and go out of business instead.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:36 PM on December 18, 2017


Uh, maybe you don't realize that Rackspace offers a similar server by the hour/storage by the GB model as Amazon? I mean you can just lease dedicated servers or buy your own and lease the space/power, but that hasn't been their only business for at least a decade now. Nor are they the only one.

One thing Amazon does that nobody else does is breadth of geography and breadth of services. Combined, others can replicate it, but no one company offers literally every service Amazon does in every region Amazon does. That's the only thing particularly special aside from the community's experience with it relative to others. More stuff works with AWS out of the box than other platforms.

It's not like managed servers (and managed clusters) weren't a thing before AWS, anyway. The scale and tooling have evolved quite a bit, though.
posted by wierdo at 6:11 PM on December 18, 2017


I think there is some confusion here between Rackspace and "rack space." :)
posted by miyabo at 6:56 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can think of plenty of monopolistic behavior. Remember when Google deranked ask.metafilter, destroying the profitability of this website and burying one of the best question/answer depositories on the web?

Yeah, I remember it well since I had a recurring donation for a time, back when it wasn't taking food out of my mouth. Speaking of which, I should probably start that up again now that I've got some savings built up again.

I disagree that is an example of abusive monopoly practices, however. It didn't disadvantage competitors to their own services, as best I could tell at the time. It's kinda ridiculous to say that once Google came up with the original algorithm that they are required to stick with it forever more because modifications might alter the order in which search results appear.

If I'm missing something, feel free to enlighten me. There's plenty to complain about from my perspective, but monopolistic practices? I don't recall any of that. (Anti-poaching agreements fall squarely into the category of total bullshit, but again is not something covered by antitrust law or to my view even related to it, plenty of groups of smaller businesses have gotten together to do similar things. The size isn't the problem in that respect, they are abusive and illegal regardless of the size of the individual participants in the scheme.)
posted by wierdo at 11:41 AM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


As I've suggested before, we should outlaw closed source software by adjusting copyright law so that no copyright on derivative works, like compiler output, exists unless the source is published along with the derivative work. Apple's capacity for evil would largely be nerfed by this change, so maybe no need to break them up.

We'd fix the Google Play back door for adding nefarious functionality in this way too, but overall Google and Facebook are web services, so compelling them to reveal source code is legally harder and may not do much good. I think Google could be improved dramatically by breaking up, but not sure what "breaking up" even means for Facebook, so maybe Facebook needs to go the way of AOL.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:11 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]




so maybe Facebook needs to go the way of AOL.

Facebook-Time-Warner?
posted by deadaluspark at 1:05 AM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


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