Last week, The New York Times posed a question – which tech giant would you drop? Give the choice of Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, which would you cut ties with first, and which is the most valuable to you?
John Gruber picked up on this, as did Kevin Spencer. Here’s my answers:
Amazon is basically just a shop to me, and there are other shops out there. I would miss being able to listen to audiobooks on Audible, Goodreads, and the Amazon Associates commission, but I could probably find satisfactory alternatives if I had to. We don’t have Amazon Prime and I get my films and TV shows from Netflix.
Unless, of course, I had to cut ties with every company that uses Amazon Web Services. Now that would be painful.
2. Alphabet (Google)
Alphabet is the name of the holding company contains Google, as well as Google X, Google Ventures, Nest Labs and other related entities. The fallout from Google Reader being closed meant that, in 2013-14, I tried to cut down my reliance on Google services.
Bing still isn’t as good as Google Search, but I think I’d manage if I had to. Currently all of my email goes to Gmail, but I could flip that back to my own server if needed. Apple Maps gets a lot of stick but, again, I could use it instead of Google Maps if needed. Losing Google Calendar would be a pain, but I could fall back to iCloud or set up an ownCloud server if required. I would miss YouTube, but it’s not the only video platform out there.
Losing access to Nest would be a bit more of a problem since we have a Nest thermostat. I assume that the thermostat would still work offline, if access to Nest was blocked, but we’d lose access to the apps.
I would also lose the small amount of money that I get from hosting Google Adsense advertising on this blog. The money I get is much less than the cost of hosting, so I might just get rid of the advertising altogether.
Okay, so my home computer, phone and tablet are all Apple devices, and I have all of my photos in iCloud. But those devices are replaceable and, whilst it would be a costly exercise, I could transition to Windows and Android devices if I had to. My Mac needs replacing anyway. I ranked this higher than Google because transitioning away from Apple would cost me more.
I imagine most people would drop Facebook quite quickly if they had to. I wouldn’t. I would feel very isolated if I could never use Facebook again; the vast majority of my friends use it, and it’s a good way of keeping in touch with friends and former colleagues that I don’t see regularly.
Unless, of course, all of my friends also had to stop using Facebook, and moved to an alternative. And I think this is the key difference here – I could abandon Apple, Google and Amazon without having forcing my friends to do the same.
When Google+ launched, a friend of mine closed his Facebook account and moved everything over there. His friends didn’t follow, and I think he’s now quite isolated from his old friends, especially as this coincided with him moving to a different part of the country.
Finally, the company that I could do without the least. I rarely use Microsoft products at home, although I do have an Office 365 license and occasionally use Skype. But work is a different matter – I use Windows and Office on a daily basis, and our work email system uses Office 365. There’s no way I would be able to do my job without using Microsoft products.
Given time, I suppose something could be done if we had to give up Windows and Office, but if using Microsoft products somehow became illegal overnight, we’d be screwed. The recent WannaCry global ransomware incident shows just how reliant we are on Microsoft products in the workplace, and what the fallout could be if those systems go down.