The "Big 5" tech companies (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta) dominate quite a lot of our modern daily lives. Mostly because they simply offer useful or entertaining services and products, but also because they naturally do their best to make life difficult for their (potentially relevant) competitors, or to keep them completely out of the market.
Economists will confirm that a vivid competition within markets is important to ensure favorable prices and innovative products. Without competition, companies do have less incentive to do their best when it comes to quality and innovation of services and products. They also do have less reasons to offer best possible prices, by trying to find an optimal price-quality relation according to consumers or users desires, and by trying to operate as efficiently as possible and thus keeping their production costs low.
Think of Google, for instance: for the large majority of us, it's the main resource when searching for answers or solutions on the internet. Nowadays, Google also delivers more and more quite simple and direct answers, without having to open a website shown in the search results (and without remunerating the websites and content creators they're getting these answers from).
Besides that, Google has become an almost monopoly or duopoly in the mobile, smartphones sphere. Google provides the operating system for most mobile phones apart from Apple's iPhones. This way, it cannot only more easily promote its own apps by pre-installing them on and optimizing them for its own mobile system. It also dominates the installation of external apps by quite directly forcing their installation through its own "app store".
This gives Google not only the power to set rules and technological standards for apps from other companies or small creative app creators, but also enables Google to charge high fees and commissions for making apps available through its app store "Google Play". Even though each and every app loaded into Google's app store increases its value (by offering more apps to its users), even non-commercial publishers have to pay a one-time setup fee. And when an app provider wants to ask for a one-time price or subscription model for its app, Google allows payments only through its store and asks a quite high commission for each sale or subscription revenue.
If you ever thought of installing another operating system on your mobile phone, apart from Google's "Android" or Apple's "iOs", for instance an open source OS, you'll have found out that no seriously useful and easily installable ones are available. One reason for this is that most apps are only easily available through the official app stores of Google (or Apple). And a smartphone without having a broad range of apps available for easy installation isn't worth much.
This smartphone app store and operating system "duopoly" was and is often criticized by the European Union, for instance, as it's seen as a disadvantage for both consumers and companies, by impeding a lively competition.
Now, the game producer "Epic Games" won a trial against Google because of its app store dominance. The game producer didn't want to pay Google high commission anymore, but instead sell its app through its own website. Google thus wanted to kick the game producers' apps out of its store, but now the jurors within this latest trial decided against Google and in favor of the game producers point of view and interests.
Other similar "app store cases" were decided in favor of Google or also Apple, so it remains exciting to see what will come out of these court rulings.
Many of us enjoy the daily use of services, products or apps like Facebook (by Meta), Messenger (by Meta), WhatsApp (by Meta since acquired), Instagram (by Meta since acquired), Google, Android (by Google), iPhones and iOs (by Apple), Windows (by Microsoft), Amazon. Some of us may also host their data or websites within the market dominating "clouds" of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or Apple - the next big business.
Wouldn't it be nice, though, to sometimes have more choices and potentially more practical services and products available (as an individual and/or as an entrepreneur)? Wouldn't it sometimes be nice to have an easier life when switching between different service or product providers, or to at least have a realistic option to do so?
Just think about how nice and useful it can be to have an "open source" browser like Firefox available. And then think about how hard it is to switch from "Windows", "Android", "iOS", or "MacOS" to another, maybe "open source" operating system like Linux (without having the known trouble of running common programs, for instance).
Or think about how easily emails can be read and sent by many different programs, thanks to common standards. And how hard it is to switch from a social network, like Facebook or Instagram, or from a most widely and quite exclusively used messaging app like "WhatsApp", to another one. The problem: often simply (almost) no one is using the alternatives, and an alternative app like "Signal" may work very well, but doesn't make much sense if the majority of your contacts isn't using it and can't be reached through it.
"Open standards" and (forced) "interoperability" might be future ways of legally opening up these limitations, increase competition and thus foster innovation, quality, and lower prices for consumers and businesses.
"Facebook", for instance, was an enriching innovation and nicely done, and we also usually like stars such as Mark Zuckerberg (and sometimes even movies made about them, like "The Social Network"). So it's okay that they make "some" money, but wouldn't also their own business life be more interesting again, if they weren't the unchallenged leaders, even without much innovation and efficiency? Couldn't Facebook get even more practical to use (for both individuals and companies), if it were forced to compete with more alternatives?
So, let's be grateful for innovative companies that make our (private or work) lifes easier and more entertaining. But let's also make sure that they can't become unfair, decadent, and even rewarded for it.