Don’t Be Evil.

The war between Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

Will Chang
Jul 31, 2017 · 7 min read
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They were gods.

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  1. The Nile River was a natural network that connected the civilization.

They are gods.

The Internet was not the first network to supposedly change everything forever. In 1910 under Theodore Vail, AT&T connected the nation with a monopoly of telephone wires. Like Google’s early “Don’t Be Evil” policy under Larry and Sergey, Vail’s AT&T served the public good. At the time, people perceived AT&T with the same technological reverence as they do with Google today. The telephone, radio, television, and film all started out as freely accessible networks. Now they’re all closed systems controlled by monopolies or cartels.

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Scott Galloway’s The Four

Google is after your mind.

Google knows every question you’ve ever asked the Internet (Search). He knows what you’ve done and what you will do (Calendar). He knows where you’ve gone and where you are going (Waze, Maps). He knows every website you’ve ever visited (Chrome, Analytics) — even the ones in incognito. He’s probably reading your Gmail, your Google Docs, and your Hangouts. He can even predict what you’ll want before you tell him (Google Now).

Facebook is after your heart.

Facebook knows your real name and can recognize your face from any photo. She can accurately predict your interests from your location, age, education, and occupation. She has a deep understanding of who you care about, how you know them, and how close you are with them. She tracks how often you message them and interact with them. She knows what you like to read, everything you like, and everything you care about.

Amazon is after your gut consumption.

Over the last million years, more of our species have died from starvation than any other ailment. We’re hardwired with one basic instinct: the need for MORE. We can never get enough.

Apple is after your reproduction instinct.

Luxury brands are how you signal your ability to attract and keep a mate. As a man, you demonstrate that you can absorb costs without endangering survival. As a woman, you’re deterring romantic rivals from poaching your relationship partner.

The war for future control.

As the Internet expands to all aspects of our lives, we’re witnessing a corporate war for control.

Your digital collar and leash.

The iPhone has already secured Apple’s control of mobile. We’ve moved off the browser and instead use apps from Apple’s App Store to access the Internet on our phones. To avoid getting shut out, Google gives away Android to phone and tablet manufacturers (Samsung, LG). Facebook acquired Whatsapp ($19B) and Instagram ($1B) to hold onto our mobile attention. To capture developing countries, Facebook is giving away free wireless Internet. Though there’s a caveat — they have to use Facebook to access it.

Infiltration of your home has begun.

Google (Nest) is watching your house through security cameras, thermostats, and smoke alarms. Google Home and Amazon Echo listen to everything you’re saying. They also can control your house as you begin collecting smart appliances. Apple is secretly working on her own Siri-based Echo competitor: Homepod.

Keeping your eyes glued.

You’ve cancelled traditional cable television because you’re using Apple TV and Google Chromecast. Amazon’s $4.5 billion original content budget only trails Netflix’s $6 billion. Google is chasing Amazon Prime and Netflix with his own YouTube Red. Amazon’s NFL streaming is attacking traditional television’s last stand — live sports. Amazon bought Twitch ($970MM) because e-sports is surpassing traditional professional sports.

Total Internet immersion experience.

Facebook bought Oculus ($2B) because she believes virtual reality is the next Internet gateway. Google wants to avoid being shut out by Oculus and Hololens (Microsoft), so he’s giving away Google Daydream by packaging it with the Android. Apple is secretly working on her own Augmented Reality product. Apple Glasses are inevitable.

The future of transportation without a steering wheel.

Google will be giving away Waymo’s self-driving platform to car manufacturers (Fiat Chrysler). He knows you will spend your idle travel time using your self-driving car to search the Internet. Apple is also secretly working on her own self-driving technology. Tesla, Uber, and Lyft hope to join The Four with this move.

Beware of the prince.

Vail built AT&T’s network as a public service to improve the lives of its customers. Yet, AT&T eventually used its monopolistic advantages to tax customers without adding value. A public company must report to shareholders who care about short-term profit. It’s structurally impossible for Vail’s successors to have a founder’s idealism and authority to ignore their demands.

Correction

Google has not thrown out “Don’t Be Evil.” Don’t be evil” is still part of Google’s code of conduct. Alphabet dropped it / didn’t adopt for their overarching code of conduct, so it still applies to Google. Thanks David and Oletros for pointing this out. I also removed the line about Facebook’s echo chamber getting Trump elected since it wasn’t based on fact.

Related Books I Love That Inspired This Article

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Will’s Newsletter

Longform thoughts by Will Chang

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