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The 1st Horsemen: Conquest

November 3, 2017

Image: Albrecht Dürer, Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513. Photoshopped by Derrob Hagy.

 

 

 

Image: Albrecht Dürer, Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513. Photoshopped by Derrob Hagy.

“I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”

— Revelation 6:1-2

 

In this series we will be going over the five tech giants, and looking at the power they hold in society and how if left unchecked, they have the potential to bring significant harm. Each tech giant will be compared to one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as follows:

 

Amazon- Conquest  

Apple- Famine

Facebook- War

Google- Death

 

Our global retail marketplace has undergone radical shifts in the last six years, and much of it is thanks to one business, Amazon. TheSeattle-based online giant has been disrupting the retail sales market for some time now. Middle class wages have stagnated over the last decade, while at the same time millennials continue to spend less money on things and focus more on experiences.

 

It is true that when shoppers go to a physical store, they tend to spend more, but physical retailers are losing ground. According to L2, foot traffic in physical stores such as malls, has dropped by 50% since 2010. Why is the drop off so drastic? One answer is that physical stores have not adapted to digital marketplaces, where Amazon is simply king. Amazon is able to offer insanely competitive prices because they can rely more on recurring revenue streams, such as Amazon Prime and cloud storage to mitigate what is essentially a break even business on the retail front. As professor Scott Galloway points out, nine times out of ten, when a business had discounted goods as one of its core concepts they attracted a low-income consumer. One of the many unique things about Amazon is that they offer high and low-end products and services.

 

In recent years, Amazon has become the fastest-growing business in the world, conquering much of retail. They have conquered the internet by having up to 42% of the internet stored in their own servers, where they have full control over how that data moves from network to network. Additionally, they have now conquered grocery stores, essentially controlling what we eat in the form of opening their own brick and mortar stores and acquiring Whole Foods for almost free. Now Amazon is reportedly in talks to enter the prescription drug business.

       

It’s true Amazon has generally had a very good relationship with the public and under current leadership, it is unlikely they would purposefully try and harm the public. The fact remains, however,  that when a company has almost-Orwellian control over our lives, we as a society should stop and think when will we end up being the ones conquered. Having one industry monopolized is bad enough for the economy. What is going to happen when all commerce is monopolized by the same company?

When a company controls what you watch, you buy, eat, drink, and what drugs you take in the morning. It’s clear that the 1st Horseman has the potential to be very dangerous. Think twice next time a box with a smiley face ends up on your doorstep.  

 

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