Whenever a company gets really big and powerful there are calls to break it up into smaller, less potent, less influential pieces. We saw that with Microsoft and Windows back in the day. It happens. Why?
Not only does wealth and power attract critics and ambulance chasing lawyers, it attracts a combination of both who see a better world when a large monopolistic-like company has to compete against smaller companies. This is why it’s time to break up Apple.
Remember John Dalberg-Acton? Of course not. But he coined a phrase that may live forever if not in infamy. There is more to it than this but you’ll get the idea and it’s easy to see where it applies to corporations. Corporations are people, too, my friend.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.
Why is it time to break up Apple? Before Apple gets any bigger.
One can make an argument that the company’s size and outsized influence on the technology gadget marketplace already has a corrupting influence upon society. iPhones and iPads are addictive to humanity, right? That must be Apple’s fault in the same vein that Coca-Cola’s sugared drinks are addictive and dangerous to our health. Or, it must be Hollywood’s fault that we have become addicted to movies and TV shows. And, it’s certainly Facebook’s fault that we’re addicted to so-called fake news.
Apple has more Fortune 500 companies than any other company, each wielding an undue influence over a variety of markets. Except eBooks. Except Music. Except applications. Except marketshare. But other than the exceptions, you fully understand and appreciate Apple’s position as a company that must be subdued by governments before it can no longer be subdued by competitive influence, governments, or even customers. After all, we’re addicted to all things Apple so what choice do we have in the matter?
That brings up another consideration. While we’re creating a list of companies that should be broken up because of their influence, let’s categorize the unwarranted power that duopolies have upon humanity.
A duopoly is a form of oligopoly where only two sellers exist in one market. In practice, the term is also used where two firms have dominant control over a market. It is the most commonly studied form of oligopoly due to its simplicity.
Simplicity is what this tongue-in-cheek but somehow relevant and plausible argument is all about, right?
How about the influence Apple and Microsoft have over the desktop and notebook operating system market. Undue influence, no? Maybe next year will be The Year of Linux on the Desktop. How about the duopoly of Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS? That’s about 98-percent of the mobile device marketplace, no? Then there’s Google and Facebook’s duopoly over online advertising. They own it. But Google is more a monopoly with online search at about 90-percent.
The problem with the argument about breaking up such monopolistic or duopolistic or just plain large and influential entities is whether or not their customers or competitors are being harmed. Google search is free. Android OS is free. Facebook is free. Apple’s iOS is free (gotta buy a product, though). Other than Batterygate, how is their growing competitive threat and a monopolistic position here and there harmful to you or me?
Limited choices. Oh, and some addiction here and there. Bing search results suck. Everyone knows Google and Facebook are both evil and a must to avoid, so maybe we can save ourselves simply by exercising more thoughtful and considerate choices among the products we buy and use.
We can give some consideration to what Apple would look like after a breakup. Mac. iPhone. iPad. Watch. Services. Apple Store. Each is a Fortune 500 company and each has outsized influence, but each has value to the others because Apple Inc. makes them work well together (at least, better than most). The argument to break up Apple or those on my list above is weak because, other than addiction, how is the customer or user being harmed?
It may be time to break up Apple, but if so, all those on my list and a few others should be busted up, too.