No, I’m not doing that. I stopped using Google once, but they ensnared me again. I’m weak, I know. Anyway, this semi-interactive column at the New York Times has been making the rounds, and I find it interesting. It asks the question which of the tech giants you’d stop using first.
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’d drop them in the following order.
First, Microsoft. There’s not much they make that I can’t live without, but gaming would be difficult since I have a pretty extensive Steam library and the SteamOS is far from ready for prime time. I’d shed a tear and move on though, that’s what the Switch is for after all.
Second, Facebook. It’s no secret I find this to be an abhorrent company with questionable motives. That said, I find myself struggling to drop Instagram, and a lot of communication is happening on Facebook itself, and through Messenger. Still, all of that is replaceable to me. Still not panicking.
Third, Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company. This one would mean I’d have to go back to Fastmail for email as well as cut all the other Google Apps services. But you know what? While that would be a pain, the alternatives are getting there. Outside of email, I think all of Google’s services can be replaced with equally useful tools. In fact, had I done my Fastmail experiment today I probably would’ve been happy without Google still. They do quality services, but the ever watchful eye is as frightening as Facebook’s. And DuckDuckGo is a proper search engine too.
Fourth, Amazon. Prime isn’t really a thing in Sweden so this one might hurt more for some of you. I’d miss Kindle, my Oasis is my primary reading device, but there are plenty of alternatives. I’d also miss Comixology, where I read graphic novels. Much like the column I’m viewing this as a consumer, so Amazon Web Services (and Microsoft’s Azure, for that matter) are still free to use through the companies that rely on them. Quitting Amazon would hurt.
Finally, Apple. It’s not just that I’m invested in their ecosystem or that they make the best phones and tablets, no, it’s trust. Apple is the only one of the big five tech companies that appear to be fighting for me, and my privacy. Now if that would change things might be different, but hopefully they’ll continue to stand for the little guy.