Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.
But what about you? If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?
Here's my list, from first dropped to last.
1. Facebook. Easy one. I don't, and won't, use Facebook. Nor do I use Instagram. So no tears to be shed if they suddenly disappeared off the planet tomorrow.
2. Microsoft. Almost the same as above. I don't use any Microsoft products these days, so this one is also easy. Well to be fair once a week we have a work conference Skype call. But calls in Slack are great (and actually better quality) so if Skype went away everything would still be ok.
3. Amazon. Unlike almost 100% of the planet, I don't really use Amazon for anything on a regular basis. I'm really an instant gratification person. If I want something, I'll drive an hour to get it so I don't have to wait. Even paying for next day delivery is too much for my got to have it now mind. Although I'd have to say that it is super handy for buying presents for my family in the UK, so I do use it about 3 times a year at most. Work wise, we do have some things on AWS that would be a pain to migrate. But not impossible.
4. Google. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the Goog. They make some good tech, but are still an advertising company first. It's complicated. You'll hear me say I'm not overly keen on tracking and having my data mined. And yet in the next breath I'll say I still use a couple of their tools. The hypocrisy is strong with this one. I don't use Chrome – Firefox on desktop and Safari on mobile. I don't use Search – I switched to duckduckgo a few years ago and haven't looked back. I don't use Android – I can't really see me migrating away from an iPhone any time soon. (And here comes the but) But we do use Google Docs at work quite heavily and it's actually not terrible. And I'm a huge Gmail user. I pay Google to host my kevinspencer.org mail as I haven't got the time nor patience these days to maintain my own mail server. There's something to be said about having something "just work". Gmail has always ticked all the boxes for me – I've used it since it was invite only (remember that?) and can't imagine using anything else now. And YouTube. Who doesn't love a little watch that concert from that band from the 80s nostalgia?
5. Apple. No real surprise. We're a Mac shop at work, and since 2008 Mac at home too. There's something to be said for Unix with a pretty face. My wife and I have owned iPhones for as long as I can remember. The cameras are so good these days that I don't use my DSLR anymore. My brain is just wired for iOS and I really don't fancy learning anything new. Oddly I find that I don't use any of Apple's other software or services. I don't use iCloud for anything, don't use their Doc suite, don't use their photos app, and the Kevin Spencer of 2010 will be shocked to hear that I rarely use iTunes much these days. But Apple's hardware and operating systems are just second to none and it would be super painful to switch to anything else now.