by Anton Shilov
11/18/2010 | 12:00 AM
Nowadays the technology world is crowded by tens of companies that not only try to sell something to the consumer, but also to change the way the consumer thinks in an attempt to sell more products or services. Among the firms that are the most vocal "information empires" currently are Apple, Facebook, Google and some others. Tim Wu, the author of "The Master Switch" book and a professor at the Columbia university, believes that Apple is the company to fear.
The Master Switch book is a history of information empires in the U.S. and the rise and fall of "companies like ABC, NBC, AT&T, and eventually Facebook and Google". In the book the author compares successful entrepreneurs and politicians and concludes that ultimately both become dictators. As a result, companies that gain most of their wealth from the Internet are naturally trying to become the center(s) of the Internet, which obviously reduces the freedom on the Web, but improves its usability.
"I know the Internet was designed to resist integration, designed to resist centralized control, and that design defeated firms like AOL and Time Warner. But firms today, like Apple, make it unclear if the Internet is something lasting or just another cycle," said Tim Wu in an interview with the New York Times.
When asked which companies did he fear the most, the author of the book said that Apple is the firm that poses the highest danger to the freedom of the Internet.
"Right now, I’d have to say Apple [is the company to fear the most]," said Mr. Wu.
According to Mr. Wu, many great technology companies specifically slowdown adoption of certain technologies or even attempt to ban them in order to maintain their power. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes not, but if a reformer finally manages to push a new technology to the mainstream, that very reformer will eventually become a great dictator.
"The man who starts as the great reformer often ends his career by becoming increasingly paranoid and abusive. There’s a cycle, and the problems usually show up when the great leader feels his power is threatened, like a political leader. [...] As I discuss in the book, Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor. The man who helped create the personal computer 40 years ago is probably the leading candidate to help exterminate it. His vision has an undeniable appeal, but he wants too much control," explained the author of the book.
The logic of Mr. Wu makes sense, but it is not undeniable. While Apple does want to control everything that is about Apple, Microsoft Corp. simply sells more software than anyone else on the planet and develops more ways to indirectly convince people that its products should be used by default. Even though the great empires rose when the authorities managed to convince the majority of residents about the prosperity and wellness, but fell when inhabitants lost their belief into the bright future, the church managed to maintain loyalty to itself for thousands of years by proclaiming ideas that were not encouraging anyone to prosper of free himself in this life.