Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Commentary on Facebook and Microsoft: digital dominance

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DThe dominant digital corporations document how the corona pandemic affects people’s lives around the world. Numerous companies have quickly changed work processes. Those who can currently often work from home. A sophisticated Internet infrastructure enables employees to continuously exchange and coordinate across national borders without delay. Videoconferencing services report record user numbers; teamwork is, so to speak, who is “teamworked”.

For example, while car manufacturers are temporarily shutting down factories and registering short-time work in Germany for thousands of employees, the demand for offers that people can use in their own homes, both professionally and privately, is growing. After what works at a time when you have to keep your distance and still don’t want to be alone.

The American Internet company Microsoft has made more than $ 10 billion in profits in the past three months – a fifth more than during the same period last year. His CEO Satya Nadella sums up what this crisis is actually doing: “We have now experienced two years of digital transformation within two months.”

Sad German discussion

The streaming provider Netflix had previously registered nearly 16 million additional subscribers around the world – the best business quarter in the company’s history. The largest social network in the world shows how many people stay in touch and keep themselves informed: Facebook reports almost 3 billion monthly users to its app family, which includes Facebook and Messenger, the Instagram and Whatsapp image service. It is noteworthy that the number of users has grown everywhere, including in the United States and Europe, where the number of users of the core app has stagnated for a long time.

Investors on the stock exchange at least put this growth in the foreground and price in a price increase of 10 percent. This clearly expresses the view that Facebook suffers from the fact that companies are currently displaying significantly fewer ads – but this will change again as soon as the pandemic has reached its peak.

For Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, there is still a second chance in the crisis: after he had been criticized like no other representative of the industry in recent years (the keywords are false news, online hate, manipulation of the election) and himself had to justify several times in front of parliaments, the public perception could not only change again only for his person and company. At least the impression seems to prevail that Facebook is courageous and effective against conspiracy theories in this crisis.

In Europe, on the other hand, it shows once again how far behind the continent is and how dependent it is when it comes to essential digital infrastructure. There is no cloud provider or online retailer comparable to Microsoft or Amazon.

And the sad, pitiful discussion about a Corona warning app in Germany shows who ultimately (again) matters: The technology companies Google and Apple, which use the mobile operating systems used by the vast majority of people (Android and iOS) in such a way that the app works sensibly afterwards.

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