back to article 'Break up Google and Facebook if you ever want innovation again'

If the tech industry wants another wave of innovation to match the PC or the internet, Google and Facebook must be broken up, journalist and film producer Jonathan Taplin told an audience at University College London's Faculty of Law this week. He was speaking at an event titled Crisis in Copyright Policy: How the digital …

  1. werdsmith Silver badge

    No need to break up faecebook, just require them to use a standard with an open API. Like browsers, email and everything else internet before these people got involved who see it as their life's mission to make their company into the de-facto web starting silo services.

    So, a person who chooses to use Diaspora could add in a contact that they know is a Faecebook user, and vice versa and continue to see their updates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Faecebook

      I like your spelling.

      1. el kabong Silver badge

        Re: Faecebook

        I like it too. Two upvotes, one for each of you.

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Concurrence

      Agreed. Any system, where it's easy to get data in, and hard to get it out again, should be avoided or prevented at all costs. If we somehow got acclimatised to such data entrapment it would be fatal for competition.

      Now if you'll excuse me, I've got Excel spreadsheets and Word docs to write, according to my Exchange calendar.

      1. AndersBreiner

        Re: Concurrence

        You can edit Excel and Word documents on LibreOffice or OpenOffice. And Google calendar works pretty well with applications on Windows. Mac, Android and so on. Google allows you to export your data

        https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3024190?hl=en

        And you can set up IMAP for email and sync that to multiple offline copies in case something terrible happens to Google.

        I'd be more worried about FB to be honest. They've got nasty habit of blocking people for increasing amounts of time based on bogus complaints. But it depends what you do there. If you only use them for messaging and never actually post a status update, you'll be fine. Especially if you make sure you can contact people by another method if something happens to your account.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Concurrence

        "Fatal to competition" is always overstated.

        It's only 20 years ago, when Microsoft looked like an unassailable monopoly. It wasn't antitrust suits that broke that hold, it was technological change - innovation, mostly by Google and Apple and to a lesser extent Amazon, that left Microsoft in the dust, despite their monopoly position.

        Remember 10 years ago, we all thought Google was basically the advertising monopolist? Now Facebook has joined them.

        And the same will happen again. "Incumbent advantage" has a limited shelf life - it only lasts until someone routes around it.

    3. Triumphantape

      Yes kudos on "faecebook"

      But I think breaking it up or, ideally, getting rid of faecebook would be the best approach.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Yes kudos on "faecebook"

        "But I think breaking it up or, ideally, getting rid of faecebook would be the best approach."

        why must a heavy-handed GUMMINT-style "solution" be set against Google and Face-bitch, just because a lot of us do not LIKE them ???

        Seriously, if they're NOT engaging in any kind of "unfair business practices", but instead are just providing "a service" for free or for money, and anyone ELSE could come along and do what they do without being interfered with, then WHERE is the problem that requires A GUMMINT to "break up the duopoly" ???

        Now, if they ARE engaging in anti-competitive "unfair business practices", then they deserve whatever legal remedies are inflicted upon them. Otherwise, they should be LEFT ALONE.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Yes kudos on "faecebook"

          I would argue that being unable to avoid being spied on by them (simply not using their services does not stop the spying) is in itself an unfair business practice at the very least. It should be criminal.

        2. Mark 110

          Re: Yes kudos on "faecebook"

          "why must a heavy-handed GUMMINT-style "solution" be set against Google and Face-bitch, just because a lot of us do not LIKE them ???"

          Its economic theory. When a player develops a monopoly position its bad for consumers in the medium to long term, particularly when that dominant position can be used to expand the monopoly into other markets. (See Googles expansion from search into services and prioritizing its services in search results.)

          Capitalist theory relies on competitive markets to benefit society. Monopolies don't do that (benefit society) usually.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Yes kudos on "faecebook"

            Put it this way. Think of the business world like a poker tournament. At some point, someone gets a big lead and can use that lead to bully everyone else off the table unless the opponent gets lucky ("Next Big Thing" paradigm shifts like Facebook); what's barely a decimal point to them becomes all-in do-or-die for you.

    4. rtb61

      Why Bother

      No need to breakup facebook because regardless of the lies of the bankster, facebook is a fad and will organically break up on its own. Basically the corporate dicks will simply seek to exploit the market dominance and drive away end users, as for myspace so for facebook. It is inevitable just a matter of when.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Start at the bottom, we're still on C and x86, so much for the cell.

  3. Platypus
    Facepalm

    There are plenty of reasons to criticize Google and Facebook, but lack of innovation is not one of them. A large part of the reason is this thing we call open source, to which both contribute a great deal. The author would do well to read about open source, specifically how it prevents the kind of enclosure and stagnation he's worried about. The fact that one site can copy another's superficial features is a *good* thing, because the alternative is exactly the kind of intellectual-property regime that leads to the worst kinds of monopoly. Would the world be better if Amazon (should be the true target of his screed) had prevailed on the one-click patent, or Apple on all the "look and feel" stuff? Hardly.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Flame

      but lack of innovation is not one of them.

      Yes it is.

      Google has bought in or copied most of its successful stuff except search. Search is getting worse.

      Facebook has only innovated on privacy theft in a way Stazi and Stalin's secret police could only have dreamed of.

      They are parasites.

      Though Google Search was once best and was brilliant, they didn't invent Search.

      Facebook was late to Social Media.

      Both successful, not innovators.

      1. Robert Grant

        Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

        Let's not be silly.

        If the Stazi wanted to keep tabs on your secret meeting, they would surveil you. If Facebook wanted to...oh wait, they don't. They just store what you give them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

          "They just store what you give them."

          No they don't

          They store what they take. Big difference. If you have visted this site without the likes of No Script, they know you visited it.

          Do you "give" them that info?

        2. Mage Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: They just store what you give them

          Facebook's icon they offer to website builders has javascript that tracks everyone. Not just Facebook users.

          NoScript is your friend.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: They just store what you give them

            if you don't have a Faece-Bitch account, does that stupid 'F' icon (and its script) STILL track you?

            [I'm just curious]

            1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

              Re: They just store what you give them

              If you are not careful (cookies et al) then yes they will

            2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: They just store what you give them

              Every time I see a post on El Reg from Bombastic Bob, I post it and it's meta-data to facebook!

            3. el_oscuro

              Re: They just store what you give them

              Unless you have this in your /etc/hosts:

              # Blocking facebook

              # https://winbeginner.com/block-facebook-hosts-file-windows-pc/

              #127.0.0.1 facebook.com

              #127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com

              #127.0.0.1 login.facebook.com

              #127.0.0.1 www.login.facebook.com

              #127.0.0.1 fbcdn.net

              #127.0.0.1 www.fbcdn.net

              #127.0.0.1 fbcdn.com

              #127.0.0.1 www.fbcdn.com

              #127.0.0.1 static.ak.fbcdn.net

              #127.0.0.1 static.ak.connect.facebook.com

              #127.0.0.1 connect.facebook.net

              #127.0.0.1 www.connect.facebook.net

              #127.0.0.1 apps.facebook.com

              127.0.0.1 searchincognito.com

              127.0.0.1 www.searchincognito.com

              # Block Facebook IPv6

              #fe80::1%lo0 localhost

              #::1 facebook.com

              #::1 www.facebook.com

              #::1 login.facebook.com

              #::1 www.login.facebook.com

              #::1 fbcdn.net

              #::1 www.fbcdn.net

              #::1 fbcdn.com

              #::1 www.fbcdn.com

              #::1 static.ak.fbcdn.net

              #::1 static.ak.connect.facebook.com

              #::1 connect.facebook.net

              #::1 www.connect.facebook.net

              #::1 apps.facebook.com

              #::1 edge-star6-shv-02-ams2.facebook.com

              Pi-holing facebook.com would work too.

        3. Captain DaFt

          Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

          If Facebook wanted to...oh wait, they don't. They just store what you give them.

          Even if that data's about a non-facebook user.

          Also collects data from third parties, and via datr cookies about non-users to build profiles.

          https://spideroak.com/articles/facebook-shadow-profiles-a-profile-of-you-that-you-never-created/

          The Stazi were slackers by comparison.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

          Do you mean "Stasi"? Clue: it doesn't rhyme with "Nazi" and the two words are also spelt differently.

      2. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

        Mmm.. no. Google's MO is to enter a known field and solve the problems therein so completely that they make everyone else look bad (unless it involves Social), earning their eternal seething hatred.

        That's not the same as 'copying' or 'buying in' or everyone could do this.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: solve the problems therein so completely that they make everyone else look bad

          Where the problems are "humans having privacy" and "musicians making money from the music they make". They've certainly put a stop to both of them....

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Google's MO is to enter a known field and solve the problems

          Google Maps? no

          Google Earth? no (bought in)

          YouTube (bought in)

          Android (bought in, Davik/apps is basically desktop JVM/Java because they could only get cut down Mobile Java licence)

          Chrome Browser? no

          Chrome OS, Google Docs: me too Cloud products with hidden costs.

          Hangouts, GMail, Google Groups, Talk, Video: Me Too stuff offered for free.

          Google's "AI" is just 1980s Expert Systems with so called "Neural Networks" to make adding human curated data easy. More hype than solution. Still no decent grammar & spelling checker any better than mid 1980s. OK Google is simply 1990s voice recognition moved to cloud and added to text search engine + updated Eliza.

          Search used to be really good, but they weren't first and the ones killed off were more honest than Google's current "bookmark" plus client advert polluted results.

          Streetview WiFi slurp was no accident. Not needed now due to Chrome Browser, Android and ChromeOS.

          So which field have Google entered and solved the problems?

          I've been using "personal" computers since before IBM PC and Computers as a user & programmer earlier. Professional programming & IT services since 1980.

          Self Driving cars are still an experiment. Their AI medical system might be a ploy to steal data, the UK data was illegally obtained. Is it really AI at all? See IBM and Medical AI.

          1. Daggerchild Silver badge

            Re: Google's MO is to enter a known field and solve the problems

            So, when Microsoft tries exactly the same stuff, with their equivalently vast money and influence, why doesn't it work? Did they 'just' buy the wrong startup? Are Google 'just' lucky?

            Most of your 'just' things aren't remotely 'just' things. 'Just' a champion AI. 'Just' a self-driving car. 'Just' the most developed browser and phone OS. I think you're wilfully ignoring, well, everything.

            But hey, by your own standards, you're 'just' a neural network, yes? :)

      3. Richocet

        Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

        Google did have some tech innovations such as non-locking distributed data updating. Basically their crawlers updating the search database while large volumes of queries were being run against that data.

        Their labs projects were quite innovative too.

        They shut most of that down now years ago but their profits continue to grow, their deceitfulness about spying/data collection grows, and their tax avoidance activities flourish.

      4. Kiwi Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: but lack of innovation is not one of them.

        Search is getting worse.

        Where can I send your prize for "understatement of the decade"? Surely this must win, hands down.

        --> Icon coz about as "under" as you can get.

        --> Or should I be using Paris for that?

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Stop

      Give & take

      A large part of the reason is this thing we call open source, to which both contribute a great deal.

      I'll just leave this here...

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Amazon … one-click patent, or Apple "look and feel"

      Two other separate issues.

      I've quite separate criticism of Apple and Amazon, who are completely different. Amazon is the dangerous one, not Apple.

      Amazon is like the Borg, hoovering up competition. See what they have bought. Goodreads, Abe Books, Book Depository, the two companies they merged to make CreateSpace and IMDB are tip of the iceberg. Their "prime" is predatory to consumers and cheats authors.

      Apple has bought in most of their "innovation". Nearly went bust and was rescued by MS money. iTunes and Operator packages made iPod and iPhone a success. Don't confuse "Design Patents" (UK Registered Design) and actual Patents. US Patent system broken since Victorian era. Edison over exploited it so eventually his bogus Cinema patents (the reason for Hollywood) struck out. Apple less than 2% on R&D and like a dragon on their cash hoard. At the end of the day no-one is forced to buy any Apple stuff and they don't have any kind of monopoly. They are not a Borg like Amazon. They have bought only a few companies very strategic to their few products, Fingerworks for iOS touch and an ARM design house so they could switch from Samsung CPUs (first iPhone was SC6400 Samsung family ARM). Though the last really innovative Apple product was the Newton, killed by Jobs on his return. If the iTunes (not Job's idea) hadn't saved Apple via iPod, some Chinese company might own the Mac brand today. (c.f. Thinkpad). The exclusive operator and all you can eat data when other smart phones could only be afforded by Corporate users cemented Apple as a consumer success.

    4. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @Platypus...

      The funny thing about FOSS... its a false economy.

      But back to the article's author's point.

      If you run NoScript (The latest verision) you can see what scripts El Reg runs.

      Why do they have Google Analytics and Google tag services? Could they not run their own analytics internally?

      Free clue. This is why Google has a monopoly on the ad services ...

      Then there's facebook. Why run js code from facebook.net?

      The author is correct in his assertions. You may not know this unless you're old enough to remember the birth of the PC.

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Regulation

    They are breaking actual real laws today. What we need is enforcement of law on Internet companies, they are not special and innovative and think laws only apply to bricks and mortar high street shops.

    Also they think paying taxes and privacy only applies ordinary workers, not companies and shareholders.

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Regulation

      Also they think paying taxes and privacy only applies ordinary workers, not companies and shareholders.

      as much as I agree with this comment, the reality is that the answer is in properly constructed laws, as all business has a duty to its share holders to maximise returns, so they spend a fortune looking for ways to bypass the existing law

      IIRC Reagan when governor of Califonia cut business rate / tax to 10%, thereby removing the ability to spend money to cicumvent the law, when a full payment would be less than than the old high rate + the cost of the lawyers doing their nefarious dealings

      TL:DR

      we need to sort the LAW out, to make it so every Co pays what they owe in FULL to whichever country they take the deal from

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Regulation

        IIRC Reagan when governor of Califonia cut business rate / tax to 10%, thereby removing the ability to spend money to cicumvent the law, when a full payment would be less than than the old high rate + the cost of the lawyers doing their nefarious dealings.

        Um no. If you know how California works they just take your money then you are the one that has to pay lawyers to get it back.

      2. smot

        Re: Regulation

        "as all business has a duty to its share holders to maximise returns, so they spend a fortune looking for ways to bypass the existing law"

        Not so. It's up to shareholders collectively to decide on the business strategy, however done, and maximising returns does not have to be the sole mantra. Suggesting that spending a fortune on ways to bypass the existing law is therefore a non sequitur and is disingenuous to many organisations.

      3. strum Silver badge

        Re: Regulation

        >the answer is in properly constructed laws,

        The problem being that the corporations in question can make the laws happen the way they want them to.

        >as all business has a duty to its share holders to maximise returns

        Not strictly true (despite being constantly repeated).

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Regulation

      "They are breaking actual real laws today."

      which ones? Just because you say it, doesn't make it real. It DOES imply "fake news" though.

      Proof, please. Otherwise, 'fake news' regardless of how many fanbois and howler monkeys up-vote you due to "wish fulfillment" or something.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    'Break up Google and Facebook if you ever want innovation again'

    Added boni: better privacy, less manipulation. What's not to like?

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Break up all large companies

    Humans spent most of our history evolving in small tribal units - it's the social group style we are most human.

    In large ones, we tend to more insect like behaviour.

    Locust like, ravening on any discovered new resource in a gluttonous mass.

    Methodical hive-like,striping one resource after another mechanically, first the cob, then the stalks, with the bulk of the 'royal honey' funnelled to the top.

    hmm, maybe Quatermass the pit was right and we were seeded by insects from Mars after all.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    We have containers, we have DevOps, we have the cloud and we have the iPhone X

    What more innovation could we possibly handle?

    1. Tim Seventh
      Thumb Up

      Re: We have containers, we have DevOps, we have the cloud and we have the iPhone X

      "We have containers, we have DevOps, we have the cloud and we have the iPhone X. What more innovation could we possibly handle?"

      Laser sharks in a sharknado with flying cars and hover-board in light speed! Insanity Innovation at its best.

  8. Jonathan Schwatrz

    Never going to happen.

    For the simple reason that Google et al are American companies, and if they got broken up it would mean the US would lose real dominance of the Internet. Sure, different Whitehouse administrations may throw the odd grumble in their direction, but they'd be terrified that breaking up a company like Google would give a chance to foreign companies - do you think the NSA/FBI/DEA/CIA would be happier with Baidu in Google's place?

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Never going to happen.

      "Google et al are American companies"

      Technically, this is true. Effectively, this is not true. Google et al are truly multinationals and have no special loyalty or connection to any particular nation. Google does not enhance US domination. Google enhances Google's domination.

      1. Jonathan Schwatrz
        Facepalm

        Re: JohnFen Re: Never going to happen.

        "....Effectively, this is not true..... Google enhances Google's domination." So you missed all the visits to the Obama WH? Google makes sure that Google's plans dovetail neatly with what the US authorities require as they know any administration would rather work with them than confront them. Even Trump's is starting to bend as Google carefully alters their approach to match the Trump administration's requirements. Even Trump would rather deal with Google than have say a Chinese company holding all the cards.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: JohnFen Never going to happen.

          ONLY when it's convenient for them to honey up to the US government. Look what happened in China; conditions got too hostile so Google bailed out of there. Google is approaching Sprawl levels of power, becoming transnational and almost sovereign unto itself, able to persuade, threaten, and in the extreme leave a country that won't help them, taking their jobs and tax revenues with them (10% of something versus 100% of nothing).

    2. HandleAlreadyTaken

      Re: Never going to happen.

      >For the simple reason that Google et al are American companies, and if they got broken up it would mean the US would lose real dominance of the Internet.

      That would imply that congresscritters care about America. Watching their activities, it doesn't seem to be the case. You're right however that it won't happen, but for a different reason. Google, well aware its whole business model is based on shaky moral and legal grounds, are on track to become the biggest spender on lobbying in the USA. As long as they keep their shopping bag full of congressmen, Google is in no danger of legislative action.

  9. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Andrew really hates Google

    Can you think of ONE bit of positive reporting on Google by Andrew?

    The big problem with innovation at the moment is that to be successful you need a big bank balance. A small company (or an individual) finds it very difficult to go from new idea to production due to the startup costs (which may well include patent lawyers). For many the best hope is to sell the idea to a larger company (eg Google) rather than lose their shirts trying to compete with the big boys.

    (Note - this is not specific to computing but applies to most established industries.)

    Only in a field with no big competitors does the small fry have much of a chance.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Can you think of ONE bit of positive reporting on Google?

      In fairness, what is there positive to report?

      That they quietly dropped "Do no evil"?

      That Eric Schmidt says governments should give teens a new ID when they come of age?

      That Google promises they won't read email sent to gmail addresses or cloud stuff of educational users?

      If anything Andrew is quite soft on them. There are of course UK libel laws.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Can you think of ONE bit of positive reporting on Google?

        "In fairness, what is there positive to report?"

        1. Android dev tools are a free download

        2. LOTS of free documentation and support for Android dev tools

        3. Getting a 'google API' key is essentially FREE [except in high volume API usage cases, like maps]

        4. Android STILL lets you set up a phone to install applications "not from the store"

        5. Search engine has "privacy mode" if you want it.

        6. google drive/docs gives you free storage and (user-based) file sharing for limited online storage that's a fairly large capacity (last I checked). businesses can pay extra for business-related cloud storage stuff.

        7. You don't have to log in in order to use the more popular "things"

        8. Google maps, also free to use. Embedding them is also free, for doing development or for 'small bandwidth' sites (needs an API key).

        The only "bad" they seem to do is tracking you personally, based on your search patterns (if you tell them it's ok, that is), and possibly hoovering up your e-mail and documents stored on their servers [but if you encrypted everything, it wouldn't matter]. Pretty much everything else is fine with me.

        I find that Google's privacy policy is moderately acceptable, in that I can tell them NOT to track. But I _still_ use 'Duck Duck Go' for searching.

        As for Faece-Bitch they can just shrivel up and die a horrible death, as far as I'm concerned. They completely malfunction with 'NoScript' running. Laughable.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Can you think of ONE bit of positive reporting on Google?

          "4. Android STILL lets you set up a phone to install applications "not from the store""

          But they DON'T allow you to designate any other "trusted" repository other than Google. Meaning repos like F-Droid and independent apps like Amazon have to take roundabout approaches to updating themselves and so on.

          "5. Search engine has "privacy mode" if you want it."

          ONLY because it's paper-thin and they're able to glean as much as they need simply from the search request itself (which is baseline HTTP and therefore impossible to avoid; no scripts means NoScript won't save you). I suspect Facebook takes the same approach to its buttons, able to glean much just from the baseline request.

          "6. google drive/docs gives you free storage and (user-based) file sharing for limited online storage that's a fairly large capacity (last I checked). businesses can pay extra for business-related cloud storage stuff."

          But that means they get carte blanche on your data. Same with Gmail.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Can you think of ONE bit of positive reporting on Google?

          Haven't you learned yet? There is nothing "free" in this world!

    2. Andy Mac

      Re: Andrew really hates Google

      You’re right, I really do.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Andrew really hates Google

      @Duncan MacDonald, wish I could give you 50 up votes.

    4. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Andrew really hates Google

      The big problem with innovation at the moment .....

      This sounds close to excusing the current broken system, stacked as it is toward the rich...

      From patent law manipulation to threats, industrial espionage to downright banditry in the preceding century or so. Whatever they think they could get away with, for some companies.

      Large may or may not be happy with the current situation, but it's one corporations have certainly had a hand in forming - more than the individual anyway.

      Doesn't help against other corporations though.

  10. Pete 2

    The river of progress

    > if the tech industry wants another wave of innovation to match the PC or the internet, Google and Facebook must be broken up

    It's a catchy meme to promote a book and make some money. But it is wrong.

    Think of progress as being a river. It flows in one direction, from the "primitive" past through the innovative present and into the "futuristic" errr, future.

    While I see no reason to consider Google or FB to be anti-innovation (they produce many new products, continually change - maybe even improve - search engine's abilities to give us useful stuff rather than promoted stuff) I suppose if I was trying to wring money out of the techno-world, being anti-establishment is the way to go.

    But even if they were choking off innovation, they would be little more than boulders in the river of progress. And we know that water flows round a rock in a river. Even if there are enough of them to stop the flow, the river will just change direction and go off elsewhere. Or roll over the top of the blockage and continue on its path·

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The river of progress

      But what if Google and the like aren't a boulder but a crevasse? You can't flow around a sheer crack in your path, and since water always flows DOWN, there's no natural way to the other side anymore.

      Another possibility is a dam: a huge one capable of stopping even the river of progress such that even if it builds enough to go over the top, everything behind it would've been flooded to ruin in the interim.

  11. Platypus

    Mage, you're either woefully misinformed yourself, or deliberately misinforming others. Google has brought in or copied everything? Besides the obvious exceptions of the PageRank concept and map/reduce, here are plenty more exceptions.

    https://opensource.google.com/

    Facebook hasn't innovated technically? More exceptions.

    https://code.facebook.com/projects/

    Never heard of Spanner or Borg/Kubernetes or Cassandra or HHVM or Open Compute? That's just ignorance. Look, I'm sensitive to the issues of privacy and market dominance and so on, but the specific claim here is that these two companies are bad for *innovation* and that's clearly false. Name a company you like better. Let's see if they contribute as much to innovation. Highly unlikely.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      woefully misinformed

      No, sorry some software development based on mostly prior art is NOT innovation. That's mostly what Facebook and Google contribute. Most of Google & Facebook contributions to opensource are simply development.

      Hardly any software ever is innovative. It's just tedious hard work!

      CAR Hoare's Quick Sort was innovative software.

      Xerox Windows GUI with bitmapped graphics, menus and mouse was innovative.

      The first graphical web browser was innovative.

      Nor did I say that Google bought in or copied everything. However what PRODUCT or SERVICE of significance is a Google innovation?

      PageRank concept isn't a Google idea!

      Big corporations and the specific pressure of High Tech companies to outsource to their cloud is toxic to civilisation.

      They are sucking up and suppressing talent. They suppress staff that think outside their box. They are uninterested in innovation, only interested in domination.

      They suck money out of the world economy.

      1. ratfox Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: woefully misinformed

        Hardly any software ever is innovative. It's just tedious hard work!

        Well from that point of view, software companies clearly can't innovate much no matter how hard they try! However...

        PageRank concept isn't a Google idea!

        I really have wonder how you came to this conclusion. PageRank was first described in an article from 1998 co-authored by the Google founders and two other people. Are you insinuating that they stole the idea from somebody else? Or that anyway PageRank was not innovative, it was "just tedious hard work"?

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: woefully misinformed

        "They suck money out of the world economy."

        GUMMINTS suck money out of the world economy (and spend the money UN-wisely, or to gain more power for the politicians).

        Google seems to be doing well because at least SOME people are willing to pay for their 'pay for' services. And they hire a lot of people with the money they earn. THAT is a VERY good thing. No 'money sucking' there. It's all good.

        There is SO much anti-capitalist sentiment these days... damn COMMUNISTS! "Class Envy" ruins everything. [instead, work your ASS off and BE "the rich guy", or at least learn along the way JUST HOW MANY OBSTACLES that gummints and class-enviers have put in your way of BECOMING rich!]

        Try living in a world where you NEVER GET TO KEEP PROFITS or are NEVER REWARDED for working hard or investing wisely. I'd throw up my hands and ask "Who is John Galt?"

        And if a company like Google becomes successful, the ENVIOUS and COMMUNISTS come out of the shadows and point fingers at them for being a target, and want them stopped simply for being successful.

        (granted I don't want them TRACKING ME so I use 'Duck Duck Go' for search, and NEVER log in for youtube, but they DO have a lot of useful services I make use of, from Android dev tools to API keys and "google maps" when I want to find something - but I use a 'special' browser that deletes history/cookies whenever I do that, and avoid logging in).

        1. strum Silver badge

          Re: woefully misinformed

          >work your ASS off and BE "the rich guy",

          What a fantasy! Millions/billions of people work extremely hard - and end up poor.

          The ones that are 'the rich guy' were either born that way or happened to have the right skills at the right time (and were still incredibly lucky). They may have put in a few long hours, at some time in their career - but they didn't ever work hard, not like a miner or a nurse or a fruit-picker works hard.

          This capitalist delusion drives so much simplistic politics (largely propagated to stop people realising that they aren't ever going to be rich, no matter how hard they work and that governments offer their only chance of avoiding grinding poverty).

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: woefully misinformed

          You do that Google owns Youtube, the IP stealing service, right?

  12. JohnFen Silver badge

    The fundamental problem

    The fundamental issue is an aspect of the "free market" that people often overlook -- without regulatory limits, there can be no free market at all. The natural evolution of any market is that there is a winner. The winner gains more power -- in other words, the ability to dominate the market and exclude competitors. The end result, absent some sort of intervention, is always monopoly.

    Left to itself, the "free market" will always self-destruct.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The fundamental problem

      Which is why I like to refer to raw capitalism as "winner economics" or as "life's big poker tournament."

  13. EveryTime

    The link back to 'Can Bill Gates Write Code?" irked me anew.

    The 'jump into the middle of an instruction' trick was well known at the time, and it almost certainly wasn't developed by Bill Gates. Using clever idioms you learned from others shows that you learned a little bit from others, but it doesn't necessarily mean you are a good coder.

    My experience was reverse-engineering a 1978 or 1979 era Microsoft Basic-in-ROM to find and fix a garbage collection bug. There were plenty of questionable parts of the code, and the bug itself showed that no one had ever tested that part of the code. Any long-running program that used strings would eventually get corruption.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Can Bill Gates Write Code?

      Circa 1987

      Mysteriously the DOS program written in MS C would crash with out of memory error.

      I discovered that RAM was becoming fragmented, by a process of logical analysis. Eventually there would not be a big enough free block for Malloc (I think it was Malloc) as there was no garbage collection to re-combine adjacent free blocks.

      Problem solved by writing my own memory management and allocating 100K at the start via MS C library.

      MS copied a lot of code from CP/M and Unix but was poor on logic and QA. Actually MSDOS originally was a bought in reverse engineered CP/M86 which originally was almost automatically cross-assembled from 8080 CP/M. Easy as the 8088/8086 was really an extended 8085 with addressing beyond 64K by segment register. Terrible but cheap choice for IBM PC.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Microsoft Basic

      Didn't Bill's programmer friend port it from Dartmouth Basic (for 6502 or 8080), which was a mainframe or minicomputer teaching language, a cut down ForTran.

      I think it was their first successful product and was on both some 8080 S100 machines with CP/M as well as on the Apple II (6502)?

      However it was long ago, if about 40 years counts as long ago. I do remember buying an edition of Byte with a picture of the Apple II and a review on a business trip to Galway, Ireland in late 1970s.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Trump era is more hostile to corporate mega-mergers"

    No they're not. They're perfectly fine with Sinclair buying up Tribune Media, giving them control of most local media in the US. They're only hostile to mega-mergers of companies they don't like.

  15. B83
    Boffin

    Goliath

    The rumour is another big player is encroaching on Facebook, Google and will make them look like pussy cats,

    http://www.jasperfforde.com/goliath/index2.html

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Complete Bullshit

    Having 4 companies, FB/GOOGL/AAPL/AMZN actively try to eat each other's lunch + massive corps like BABA treating to stomp in - the market is way more active than lots of mini companies trying to do stuff.

    The Internet happened because of the industrial war complex and the US flighting with Russia.

    I'd rather have one company like Apple that can get their shit together to make a phone that changes the world.

    Taplin is clueless or deluded - not sure which.

    1. strum Silver badge

      Re: Complete Bullshit

      >The Internet happened because of the industrial war complex and the US flighting with Russia.

      I'd rather have one company like Apple that can get their shit together to make a phone that changes the world.

      The internet changed the world. iPhone didn't.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Complete Bullshit

        Wanna bet? Remember what the American phone world was like BEFORE the iPhone?

  17. Triumphantape

    He is correct

    Microsoft, Facebook (and other "social" media), Google have become exceedingly dangerous in a number of ways and need to be broken apart and regulated.

    So does the MSM, 90% of which is currently owned by 6 corporations

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: He is correct

      But consider this. The current AT&T and Verizon both came about through the RE-merging of the various Baby Bells that were created from the breakup of the original AT&T. The point is, mergers and acquisitions are a natural course of business since with size comes scale and integration that smaller companies can't do. And there's no way to predict how much is too much, so the end result is that any serious breakup just starts coming back together again, around any laws that get in their way.

  18. doug_bostrom

    It seems highly premature to draw any conclusions about the Trump administration's approach to anti-trust.

  19. ecofeco Silver badge

    Here's another reason

    There is also IP hoarding, where great ideas never see the light of day because some executive could not figure out how to monetize it, or executed it badly and it failed only due to bad management.

  20. DougS Silver badge

    How would you break them up?

    All you could do for Facebook is to require them to divest Messenger and WhatsApp. I can't really see how Facebook could be broken up beyond that in any reasonable way.

    Google would be a little easier, splitting search and Android would not damage either but the advertising behemoth would be two smaller behemoths, who would now have to compete with each other.

    Not arguing for this, I think it is a bit early to be concerned with "break them up if you ever want innovation again". Microsoft wasn't broken up - barely touched in fact - but Ballmer's sheer incompetence caused them to miss out on advertising, social networking, and mobile, allowing Google, Facebook and iPhone/Android to create huge new markets that are nearly 100% Microsoft free. Here's hoping for a Google and Facebook version of Ballmer to take over the reins when the founders decide to move on...

  21. Richocet

    Breaking news - laws won't apply to tech giants

    I just read this news

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-29/bill-proposes-to-put-tech-giants-above-the-law/9203876

    Am interested to hear what commentors think in relation to the El Reg topic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Breaking news - laws won't apply to tech giants

      "Am interested to hear what commentors think in relation to the El Reg topic."

      Peter Townsend, Chris Langham & co may be interested in moving there.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Break up... the patent office... if you ever want innovation again" - there FTFY

    The only reason there was innovation in the early days of things was because the C++ libraries, API's, hosting platforms weren't there. People innovated to fill a gap.

    However, the biggest thing that needs breaking up and reforming is the US Patent Office (along with the various patent lawyers for stupid, silly patents that are either too vague or have prior art but conveniently forgotten,

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But without patent protection, how will innovators protect their inventions without them being copycatted?

      As for nonphysical patents, the solution there is not to ban them but to shorten them to reflect the speed of their pertinent industries. Protecting a nonphysical patent for, say, only two or three years can be a good middle ground: long enough to still encourage innovation but not so long as to stifle it.

  23. John Savard Silver badge

    Intel and Microsoft

    Clearly I must be dated. I see the dominance of Intel and Microsoft as having an obvious effect on competition and innovation. But Google? Free Android, and a better search engine than AltaVista. What's not to like? And Facebook? What does that have to do with innovation? Who needs it?

    Of course, ten years from now, I expect we'll all have to find some other search engine, because Google will collapse by not managing to monetize these wonderful free services it's giving out enough to pay for them - thus the investors gambling their money will finally tire of it. Probably I'm all wrong, and haven't been paying enough attention.

  24. DevelopLibertee

    Simple solution to FB/Google dominance

    Remove state-based barriers to entry (git rid of govt) and create a competing, better service that people want to use. If allowed to work freely, the market will work. What Mr. Taplin may not realize is that this planet hasn't seen anything resembling a free market in decades,

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Simple solution to FB/Google dominance

      Because the human condition prevents truly free markets from staying that way. Either someone cheats or someone gets enough of an edge to start muscling everyone else out. Either way, sharks start entering your minnow pool.

  25. sloshnmosh

    Careful what you ask for!

    Remember when the government stepped in to "promote competition" and "stimulate investment" for "lower prices, better quality and greater choice in their television and cable services"?

    PRESIDENT CLINTON: “For the past three years, my administration has promoted the enactment of a telecommunications reform bill to stimulate investment, promote competition, provide open access for all citizens to the Information Superhighway, strengthen and improve universal service and provide families with technologies to help them control what kind of programs come into their homes over television. As a result of this (act), consumers will receive the benefits of lower prices, better quality and greater choice in their television and cable services, and they will continue to benefit from a diversity of voices and viewpoints in radio, television and the print media.”

    The Telecommunications Act of 1995.

    http://tarbubbles.com/blog/clintons-performance

  26. daviskel

    The author missed the point. Amazon is the Creativity Killer

    I'm a big fan of Amazon but do not kid yourself, at the end of the day they will end up running the world if someone does not stop them. They simply have no other business model. Their goal is to acquire or produce and provide that which make their customers lives better. This means if you want or need something, Amazon will provide it for you, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, no matter what it is.

    Think about that statement for a moment. I like Science Fiction. Amazon has made it cheap, easy to read, and has made it easier to get then the library. I can "own" a library and I don't even need to clutter up my house with actual paper. If I want someone to tell me a story Amazon acquired Audible and they have some of the best story tellers in the world writing the best books Ever written past, present, or future, told by the best actors you can find.

    Amazon owns my library, well I own it but they own the space. They own they Data Space for my company, and probably for most of the readers of this email. They own the warehouses for everything they sell, They are actively working to provide the platform of the future where your desktop actively resides in their Cloud, and you will not even know it, but you will pay them a pittance to work on it.

    If there was every a company in need of being broken up it was Amazon. Does anyone ever talk about it? Probably not.

    That's what I call success.

    Break them up.

    Boo-yah.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: The author missed the point. Amazon is the Creativity Killer

      Yes, Amazon are massive and in a lot of stuff. And, yet, they still don't piss me off half as much as as Google or MS do. At least Amazon delivers stuff to me that I actually want.

  27. Shannon Jacobs

    Implementing his solution via tax policy? Dream on...

    This article would be counter-evidence against the idiocy of #PresidentTweety's America except that I bet most of you (especially you Americans) have never heard of this guy and he is NEVER going to have any influential political office. I would go farther and say that none of the REAL Trumpsters could understand a word he's saying.

    Having said that, I strongly agree with him and even believe tax policy could and probably should be the main tool to implement his ideas. I think there should be a progressive tax on corporate profits, where market share (and dominance) is the metric raising the tax rates of excessively large and monopolistic corporations. It would NOT be a penalty for success, but rather a strong inducement to reproduce the good ideas, creating MORE choices and freedom for everyone.

    In contrast, the current system is solely focused on increasing corporate profits. Most of that has become a fantasy, too, since it is often tied to imaginary market caps based on fantasy stock prices.

    Not going to invest more time just now, but if I notice your interest, maybe I'll go beyond this elevator summary:

    Capitalism is dead. Communism, too. Today we worship corporate cancerism. There is no gawd but profit, and Apple is gawd's chief prophet. The google is only around #7 on the list of prophets.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Implementing his solution via tax policy? Dream on...

      But we already know their response: move their operations to smaller countries that can operate on lower expenses and can therefore predate larger countries with lower tax rates. Your idea would just accelerate that process. Remember, it's cheaper for them to weasel their way around taxes than to actually pay them. Probably will always be that way, meaning it's going to be damn hard to get them to pay anything worthwhile. Same is true of anyone of importance, as they'll just switch to untaxable methods of payment.

  28. techquila

    end the monetary system, abandon ownership, open source all knowledge.

    Problem solved, progress can now be made freeing us up to work on things that really matter.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: end the monetary system, abandon ownership, open source all knowledge.

      That's essentially communism, though. The human condition doesn't allow for true communism on a large scale.

  29. Colin Tree

    disrupt

    Do it the tech way.

    We need a new disruptive technology to push these platforms aside and make them obsolete.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: disrupt

      The thing with large enough firms, though, is that they can see disruptive techs coming and smother them with things like offers you can't refuse. Look what happened to Snapchat.

  30. DukeboxDurie

    Hate to say I told you so, but I never bought the idea of a social media revolution. These "Libertairian " leaders in their Silicon Valley campuses say they want to free everything, but tend to deploy controlling monopolies..... so don't believe the hype, and as i say: TOLD YA >>> http://www.netopia.eu/hate-say-told/

    And also: https://twitter.com/netopiaforum/status/936590500290859009

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      "Hate to say I told you so, but I never bought the idea of a social media revolution. "

      Did you then link to Twitter?

      (Didn't check the link, out of principle. Just like I will never sign up to Pinterest, or similar moronic sites.)

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