Produced and edited by James Sandy; graphics and animation by Russell Birkett; filmed by James Sandy, Joe Sinclair and Tom Hannen
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What is the future of Big Tech?
Well, I think in the short term, big tech is going to get a lot bigger. Google, Facebook, Amazon. They were growing at around near 20 per cent, , and so unless something changes quickly, which is not going to do, they're going to be much bigger.
Even if you're not actively using Facebook.com, you might still be using WhatsApp or Instagram. It's cookies might still be following you around the internet, so it's showing you ads on other people's websites. And so much of the internet is run on Amazon Web Services or Google's Cloud, that if you were to try and turn those company's off all together, the online world as we know it would just cease to function. So I don't think that's something anyone is really suggesting.
If you look at the advertising business model, if we're thinking about like how they fail financially, then it seems the way it is today that that's almost impossible. Because between Google and Facebook, it's a complete duopoly in the online ad market. And even though digital advertising has apparently been growing over the last few years, really, it's the pie of Google and Facebook that's been growing. While everybody else has actually been struggling. I don't think that they're going to fail in that way.
But then even if they don't, I think government is going to start to wear them down in the same way that regulators tied up IBM, which was the first real computing giant. Tied up Microsoft 15, 20 years ago. Some of these new giants will also get tied up in regulation. It will inevitably mean they move slower, so it may not be now, it may not be in five years, but when the next revolution comes in technology, it may not be the big companies we know of today that are leading it.
I think one thing that definitely feels like everybody in the tech industry and those campaigning against it, are quite keen for is for us to move on from the smartphone. We're all getting more worried about how much time we're spending on the screen. Investors are getting worried that the growth in smartphones around the world is slowing down. And so everyone's kind of trying to hunt around for the next big thing. But nobody's quite figured out what that looks like. A lot of people like Apple and Facebook seem to think that it's going to be some kind of technology that you wear on your face. But whether that actually solves the problem of staring at screens too much remains to be seen.