Sean Herman is a kid digital privacy, screen time and social media expert. As founder and CEO of Kinzoo, Sean aims to make Kinzoo the most-trusted brand for incorporating technology into our children’s lives. His first book, "Screen Captured," debuted at number one in Amazon's parenting category, and his writing separates technology fact from fiction for his fellow parents. As a CFA Charterholder, Sean is uniquely qualified to analyze the future of technology from both a consumer and a company perspective. He lives in Vancouver with his two children and wife of twelve years.
I think that we can surely expect that it will be a long time before we see the results of the antitrust investigations into Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google. The last signficant antitrust ruling against Microsoft was nearly 20 years ago when the company settled with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in November 2001, but this came after a lengthy trial and appeal process which lasted more than three-and-a-half years. We can similarly expect a long period of time to pass before we any sort of resolution to the current investigations of big technology. The range of potential outcomes is broad and could include everything from breaking companies apart to settlements to no action at all. Much of it hinges on the role that the concept of consumer welfare plays in the investigation. The concept argues that if consumers aren't harmed in the way of higher prices, the case against antitrust is strengthened and the chances of action against companies is weakened. Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google's services are largely free, or in the case of Amazon, offer consumers extremely competitively priced products. Instead, these companies trade in the currency of consumer data, and much of their enterprise value derives from user counts. The consolidation of data into such a small number of companies is giving them an unfair advantage in my opinion and some of the numbers illustrate that. Google owns 90% of all internet searches, while Facebook and Google account for 99% of all internet advertising growth. In my view, we'll see at least one company breakup as a result of the current investigations, but it will come in the form of a settlement as opposed to forceful breakup by the DOJ. I think the most likely action will be Amazon splitting off Amazon Web Services, it's cloud computing division into a separate entity. There should be strong arguments for breaking YouTube apart from Google, and Instagram from Facebook as well, as long as consumer welfare isn't the deciding factor. In any case, we shouldn't be holding our collective breaths - it will likely be years before we can expect the outcomes to materialize.19 November 2020