John Oliver After focusing on the midterm elections in the first section, The Last week Tonight moved on to discuss the core issue of the internet. Specifically, who owns the internet monopoly, and why we should care.
Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google are the traditional suspects of anticompetitive behavior. This should be no surprise, given that these companies are the most well-known in their respective fields.
However, as Oliver explains in this episode, not everyone knows how these tech behemoths suffocate their competitors, “choking them off” before they even have a “fair chance to try.”
John Oliver’s Gripes regarding tech companies on the internet
Few things make John Oliver happier than chewing on AT&T, which owns HBO and Last Week Tonight, which Oliver likes to call “business daddy.”
As a result, when Oliver offered viewers a brief history lesson on how the U.S. government has traditionally moved to break up damaging company monopolies, he naturally pointed fingers at AT&T, which had a monopoly on all telephone services in the country until the 1980s.
He mentioned that after AT&T was broken up, prices fell and innovation rose, resulting in advances such as answering machines and modems. The breakup paved the way for the internet’s widespread use.
“Ending a monopoly is almost always a good thing, whether it’s AT&T, or Standard Oil, or any game of Monopoly,” Oliver said.
Do companies promote themselves on their platforms?
Specifically, John Oliver discussed the act of “self-preferencing,” when companies unfairly favor their products on their platforms. Apple, for instance, prevents iPhone users from downloading apps from anywhere but Apple’s App Store, where Apple apps appear to appear first in searches. Plus, Apple takes a preposterous 30 percent of the money outside developers make — whether by selling their app or in-app purchases — as a commission, earning Apple billions of dollars a year.
It should also be no surprise that Google has a monopoly on online searches, accounting for nearly 90% of all queries. Another issue is that, compared to competitors, Google prioritizes its content in search history, essentially suffocating competition.
However, according to John Oliver, Amazon is “the firm most guilty of self-preferencing.” Amazon is essentially an online marketplace that benefits itself by putting its items in the Buy Box over those from other sellers, some of whom offer lower prices for the same item. “It is Amazon’s playground, they determine the rules, and they do appear to win a lot of the time,” the late-night program host says.
In conclusion, John Oliver stated that, regardless of what you may believe, things on the internet do not operate well right now because it is a reality that people do not realize what they are missing if they are never offered other possibilities.