Tech Winners and Losers 2017
"We Are the Champions…"
Sometimes there is an irony in winning. When you're king of the hill, top of the heap, sometimes you forget to do the little things that made your success possible. And sometimes you can be both a winner and a loser at once. Read on and you'll see what I mean.
Winner: Amazon - for executing its plan for world domination just about perfectly. The online bookseller (doesn’t that original description sound quaint now?) has muscled its way into every facet of ecommerce, except perhaps legal weed. It’s run out of online merchants to co-opt or drive out of business, so it’s now buying brick-and-mortar chains like Whole Foods to destroy what’s left of the others.
FedEx, UPS, and even the United States Postal Service now work for Amazon. Dozens of cities in the U.S. and Canada are throwing billions of dollars at the company in fervent hope of attracting its second headquarters and 50,000 highly paid jobs. Amazon Prime, the company’s profit leader, is now offered to welfare and food stamp recipients at nearly half price because poor people must not be denied free shipping of things they can’t afford. And finally, there’s Amazon's Alexa, who totally does not eavesdrop on your private conversations for the NSA; she really works for the Internet Advertising Bureau.
Loser: Amazon Web Services - for continuing to permit databases to be stored on its servers without even a password like “12345678” to protect them from theft. Thanks to AWS, the voting records and personal data of 200 million Americans were stolen as easily as a child might snatch candy from the bottom shelf of a supermarket checkout lane. A Verizon subcontractor used AWS to give away the customer records of 14 million subscribers, including phone numbers and account PINs. Even classified U.S. Army data was left on AWS for the taking like an old couch with a “FREE” sign left on the curb. AWS could fix this enormous problem simply by requiring strong passwords on everything, but it has not.
Winner: Bitcoin -for skyrocketing from $1,000 USD to over $21,000 during 2017. The original cryptocurrency has captured the imaginations and greed of Wall Street banks and common citizens alike, spawning hundreds of me-too cryptocurrencies offering “ground floor opportunities” to gamblers who fancy themselves investors. Now we even have officially sanctioned Bitcoin futures contracts, where short-sellers can ruin things for everyone else. Just don’t be like the early, frivolous Bitcoin buyers who have forgotten their account passwords.
Loser: Bitcoin - whose future is bleak because it was designed with a hard limit on the number of Bitcoins that can be created. The result is transaction fees now north of $20 each, killing any notion of using Bitcoin as an everyday payment method. The exponentially increasing difficulty of processing transactions has resulted in days-long delays during which the value of Bitcoin fluctuates up to 25% and more. Bitcoin users - as opposed to long-term “investors” - are fleeing to more open-ended and agile cryptocurrencies.
Winner: Facebook - which now claims over 2 billion members who are active at least monthly. No other social media platform comes even close, and thanks to the “network effect” none ever will before the Sun goes nova and engulfs the Earth. The game is over, Zuckerberg has won. His winnings included $10 billion in profit for 2016.
Loser: Facebook - for so many reasons ranging from trivial to earth-shaking. Why do I need the Chrome extension Social Fixer to make the Enter key work as it does everywhere else? Why is it so hard to keep Russian trolls from meddling in U.S. elections? Why did Facebook’s translation service get a Palestinian man arrested for posting “good morning?”
Winner: Google - for winning most of the legal battles it fought in 2017. The company bested Japanese “right to be forgotten” laws, and avoided $1.3 billion in French taxes. It also scored early victories in a California equal-pay class action lawsuit. Aside from its legal team, Google hasn’t done much big winning this year.
Loser: Google - for “intermittently” - that means repeatedly - blocking the UK’s entire National Health Service staff of 1.2 million employees after mistaking them for a bot network that launched cyber-attacks.
Winner: Uber - for disrupting the corrupt, overpriced, and frequently abusive taxi industry.
These examples of winners and losers illustrate the ancient concept of Yin and Yang. In Chinese philosophy, there is no light without darkness; every good thing contains some evil, and vice versa. May the year 2018 bring us more good and less evil. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Jan 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Tech Winners and Losers 2017 (Posted: 4 Jan 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved