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To help understand how our digital lives will go next, I am going to quote a line from “All Men of the President”: Watch the Money.
Why is Spotify invading podcasts? Because streaming music is a financial trap, and Spotify has to find something that isn’t. Uber’s push to distribute everything is a classic tactic: If one business isn’t profitable, use it as a platform to sell something else. Apple is branching out to sign up for fitness and (possibly eventually) cars because it’s trying to find a second action after the iPhone.
Companies shaping the way we spend our time and money and the retouching industries make choices based not only on what’s appealing to us, but also on what’s useful to us. their profit.
This is not bad! Money is so handy! And I’m simplifying the complex strategies of companies. While the profit motives don’t explain everything, they are a useful prism to where the technology is headed and why.
To illustrate this, I will look at two successful tech giants: Amazon and Google.
Amazon started out in retail, where making a few pennies from every dollar of merchandise sold was considered great. Whatever Amazon does next is relatively more profitable than buying grinders and dog food from manufacturers and reselling them to us.
That’s one reason Amazon has been able to pounce on millions of different businesses that might not make immediate sense – even groceries, a low-margin business. That is the magic of starting a life with such tremendous profit potential. Anything new is probably more beneficial.
On the other hand, Google started to work in digital advertising, basically pure profit. Just about whatever it does next bland comparisons.
Even if Google doesn’t make much profit from every dollar it sells, entering new areas keeps the company moving and expanding its technology into new areas. The same is true for Amazon.
But Amazon and Google ‘s differing profit origins create an interesting dynamic. Selling cloud software to businesses generates the majority of Amazon’s pre-tax profits. But for Google, which does similar business and wants to compete badly with Amazon, cloud computing will never be as profitable as Google’s main monetization engine. Does that even subtly detract from Google’s incentives to get serious with this business?
This is also an issue for Apple. Selling an Apple car may not be as profitable as it once was. Apple is probably targeting the luxury car market, and even luxury car companies are likely to generate lower margins than the iPhone. (Seriously, Apple is good at making money.)
I don’t want to be someone who understands this. Apple’s reconsideration of shipping is an interesting prospect for us and could keep the company as a technology leader for decades to come. But whether corporations’ profit motives will affect the technologies they strongly pursue.
Tech companies love to talk about directing our deepest desires and changing the world. Money is an implicit motive. But sorry. Money makes the world and technology turn around.
Let’s do TikTok again?!?!
The sound you are hearing can be my frustrated screams.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the agreement to keep the TikTok app operating in the US under partial ownership of Walmart and Oracle… probably won’t happen, The Wall Street Journal reported.
You may recall that this deal last year was the result of a bizarre spectacle involving the US president negotiating a business deal in public with some of the world’s most powerful executives.
This is fueled by concerns about TikTok being owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance. Due to little separation in China between private and government companies, some US officials are concerned that the short video app could be abused to propagate and steal American personal information .
Some of the concerns about TikTok are plausible, and some appear to be driven by misdirected nationalism. In any case, the US government’s threats to shut down TikTok and the American struggle to own it became meaningless.
But now, there’s a chance to do it again. The magazine reported that the Biden administration is determining its own response to the potential danger of Chinese software.
This time, let’s think more closely about how we approach this problem. Because while TikTok is the first extremely popular technology in the US originating in China, I doubt it will be the last.
This time, let’s look at ways to make all kinds of applications – not just TikTok – more transparent about computer-decided material that can pull people into conspiracy theories. This is an opportunity to reconsider the data collection of Americans mostly unrestrained – by foreign and domestic companies.
This is also an opportunity for Americans and our governments to grapple with what we want to do so that global technology becomes less dominated by the United States. One question arises as to whether U.S. officials and the American public should focus their attention on the most serious foreign technological threats. (TikTok probably isn’t.)
And finally, all of this requires our politicians and companies like Facebook to stop using China as a fraudster.
TikTok Part 1 is meaningless. Let’s make the next part mean something.