In a year of even bigger privacy and data breach scandals, it was easy to miss a major lawsuit in late November in London.
With Boris the Jester hitting the headlines, many didn’t notice the UK competition watchdog ordered Facebook to sell Giphy, the GIF-making website he bought for $ 400 million. of dollars.
Giphy, for those over 25, is where tens of millions of people find or create animated GIFs to send so many texts.
The Autorité de la concurrence et des marchés said that in order to “protect millions of social media users” and prevent Facebook “from increasing its significant power in social media”, it had to sell its acquisition, even if it had little income in the UK.
“By forcing Facebook to sell Giphy, we are protecting millions of social media users and promoting competition and innovation in digital advertising,” said Stuart McIntosh, who chairs the independent investigative group that investigated the ‘okay for the watchdog.
“Without action, it will also allow Facebook to further increase its significant market power in social media, by controlling competitor’s access to Giphy GIFs.”
It is the first of many other such aggressive steps by regulators against the hitherto unchecked power of Silicon Valley tech giants.
It took some time for the shock of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which manipulated the 2016 Brexit and the US presidential elections, to set in, and a change of US president to bring about the long-awaited toll that Big Tech is now in. confronted.
Powerful new figures in the Biden administration with serious credentials in competition law now occupy key roles, in particular Lina Khan, who is the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.
Numerous legal cases are already underway against the so-called Faang companies – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. These companies have an unassailable monopoly in their respective fields (including video via YouTube for Alphabet, Google’s parent company).
Meanwhile, as the United States tries to curb its wayward tech ventures, China has done it before – with incredible brutality. Tencent, Alibaba and others can confirm that when the Chinese Communist Party changes its mind about the free pass it has given to its tech industry, it can cost you dearly.
China’s technological advance is expected to start paying off in 2022, though he’s not sure how big it is.
Former #Presidency Donald Trump has shot the US tech industry in the foot with his reckless series of bans on working with Chinese companies. Add to that the impact of Covid-19 on the manufacturing of computer chips and every country is keenly aware of the issues involved in handling a global supply chain. No thanks either to the massive Ever Given, which demonstrated the fragility of the good old boat by blocking the Suez Canal for a week.
The memes that have cropped up about the lone digger trying to take off the giant ship captured the zeitgeist of a tired world. My favorite was the one captioned: “The Overwhelming Desperation of Everything That Happened Last Year”, featuring the lonely mover titled “You, do your best”. That alone sums up the year, doesn’t it?
Personally, I am very excited about the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) in the market and in South Africa this year. I have been driving the BMW iX for a few weeks and the first impressions are winning.
As the dynamics of supply and demand begin to take effect, the cost of cars is expected to come down. Interestingly, as the charging infrastructure improves and becomes more widespread, the size of electric vehicle batteries is likely to shrink. The battery is the most expensive component in the system and is currently the size it is to compensate for the lack of charging stations. More of these mean smaller batteries and cheaper cars, following conventional economic logic.
My other personal passion for technology is foldable screens. This year’s Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and Flip3 are brilliant devices that show off incredible hardware engineering.
I’m particularly fond of the Fold3, which has a “normal” 6.2 inch screen but opens up to 7.6 inches.
I don’t have any social media apps on my smartphone except Twitter so I mainly use it for reading or watching videos. Opening the Fold and using its bigger screen to read and watch videos is a total winner for me.
But by far the biggest trend for 2022 is the long-awaited big toll for Big Tech – and it’s not going to be pretty for the social media and tech giants. But they deserve what’s to come. DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 which is available for R25 from Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest dealer, please click here.