The Frightful Five

Farhad Manjoo:

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.

Mr. Parker notes the Big Five’s power does not necessarily prevent newer tech companies from becoming huge. Uber might upend the transportation industry, Airbnb could rule hospitality, and as I argued last week, Netflix is bent on consuming the entertainment business. But if such new giants do come along, they’re likely to stand alongside today’s Big Five, not replace them.

It’s something I’ve been aware of – it’s why I don’t like the trite little “oh, you’re going to be the next Bill Gates” that people say sometimes. No. Nobody’s going to be the next Bill Gates, because Microsoft already exists and they are unassailable in their position at the top. These are companies that can afford to buy out small countries. No startup can pull together the resources to challenge them on their own territory.

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