Big tech companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are being scrutinized by regulators for using their dominance in unfair manners. Amid the increasing calls to break up big tech companies, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with CBS News, “I think scrutiny is fair. I think we should be scrutinized.” Cook further added, “I don’t think anybody reasonable is gonna come to the conclusion that Apple’s a monopoly.” Monopoly or not, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes the tech giant should have broken up years ago.
.@NorahODonnell: “Is Apple too big?”
Apple CEO Tim Cook: “No, I don’t think so. But, with size, I think scrutiny is fair. I think we should be scrutinized. I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly.” https://t.co/m8W4Yr7lkW pic.twitter.com/hRpZnUfLUT
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) June 5, 2019
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Woz favors the ‘break up big tech’ calls
Steve Wozniak left Apple in 1985, but the outspoken Apple co-founder often weighs in on the company’s products, services, and strategy. He said in an interview with Bloomberg, “I wish Apple on its own has split off a long time ago and spun off independent divisions to faraway place and let them work independently, like Hewlett-Packard did when I was there.”
In the same interview, Wozniak said the new Apple Card was “beautiful.” He added that the Apple Watch had become “my favorite piece of technology in the world right now.” In the past, he has also said that Apple was falling behind on the foldable smartphone technology. Samsung and Huawei have already launched their foldable phones.
Wozniak has a different reason for favoring the break up of Apple than politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He told Bloomberg that breaking up Apple would allow engineers to work more independently. Wozniak wants Apple to do something similar to what Hewlett-Packard did in 2015 when it split itself into two entities – one with PC and printer business, and another with data storage and enterprise business.
“I think big tech has gotten too big, it’s too powerful a force in our life.” It’s hard to escape big tech in the modern world. He also wants Google and Facebook to give users “a choice to pay for almost no tracking.” Wozniak praised Apple for making money by selling products instead of tracking people.
Wozniak is in favor of the ‘break up big tech’ campaign because the tech giants are using their dominance in one market to capture other markets. “I am really against monopoly power being used in unfair antitrust manners,” said Woz. He believes the big tech companies are getting away with “a lot of bad things.”
The iPhone maker has been a vocal proponent of user privacy. But after whistle-blowers revealed that it was secretly allowing its employees and third-party contractors to listen to your Siri recordings, Apple was forced to admit it. The contractors would listen to recordings of drug deals, medication information, and couples having sex. Woz criticized Apple, Google, and Amazon for using humans to listen to their voice assistant recordings.
Will Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon be broken?
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have called for breaking up big tech companies. Warren had put up a giant Break Up Big Tech billboard right in the heart of Silicon Valley. She has accused companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook of using their power to stifle competition.
Facebook wanted to buy Snapchat. But when Snapchat founder refused to sell the company, Facebook responded by shamelessly copying the most important features of Snapchat to Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook apps. Snapchat is now struggling to grow its user base.
Tech giants like Facebook and Google are already facing antitrust investigations. Apple has also been accused of using its power unfairly. Music streaming service Spotify has accused Apple of abusing the dominance of the App Store to take a hefty cut of the in-app purchases while also having its own music streaming app.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have reached a deal where the former would investigate Apple and Google while the FTC would look into Facebook and Amazon. It’s too early to say whether regulators would break up any of these technology juggernauts. Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon each has market valuations of between $500 billion and $1 trillion.
Breaking up these technology giants will not be as easy as it seems. Products and services in Apple’s ecosystem offer a seamless experience to users because they are owned by a single company and are tightly integrated. The same goes for Amazon and Google. However, breaking them up could give consumers more choices.