There is a growing opinion that tech giants such as Alphabet and Facebook should be “broken up or regulated as Standard Oil and AT&T once were,” but antitrust regulators can’t yet make a clear case that the size of these companies leaves consumers worse off. This according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
But going forward, the article argues, “if market dominance means fewer competitors and less innovation, consumers will be worse off than if those companies had been restrained. The article offers an overview of similarities and differences between today’s tech giants and history’s monopolists. One parallel, it points out, is that “the monopolies of old and of today were built on proprietary technology and physical networks that drove down costs while locking in customers, erecting formidable barriers to entry.”
The article delves into the specific examples (including Standard Oil and AT&T), drawing comparisons to the current tech industry environment with respect to companies like Amazon, Snap and Microsoft. As far as potential pro-consumer remedies, the article cites the option of giving users ownership of their own data or impeding acquisitions of companies that “might one day be a competing platform.”