Apple Made a Nine-Minute Ad About the Great Resignation (source:

“The Underdogs are back in business — as in, small business. Escaping from their evil boss’s clutches, the team finds out how to spin an idea into a product, and a product into a company. It’s a journey fraught with email and conference calls and birthday cakes and ballet recitals. Hires from halfway around the world, and a 14-year-old that just might take over the world. And a garage with an odor that — well, you get the picture. Thanks to Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple Business Essentials, and a suite of business apps, the team manages to find its footing. Because when you stick together — and your devices work together — you’ll always find a way, in the office or not. This is Apple at Work.

Welcome to the official Apple YouTube channel. Here you’ll find news about product launches, tutorials, and other great content. Our more than 160,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.”

On Thursday, Apple released a new short film as a part of its “Apple at Work” campaign highlighting its various products and services for businesses. The ad follows a group of four employees that first appeared in Apple’s “The Underdogs” spot from 2019.


In that video, the group was at the mercy of Vivianne, a boss from hell, as they try to put together a presentation in just two days. Of course, they did it using Macs and iPhones and a variety of Apple software. Last year, the four returned–that time they were working from home. Again, the idea was that Apple makes all the things you need to collaborate, even if you’re not together in the office.

Now, in a spot called “Escape from the Office,” the four are done putting up with Vivianne and her demands and decide to quit. Inspired by a grocery bag, they start their own business making a stronger, more environmentally friendly bag. The rest of the video is full of FaceTime calls, iMessage conversations, Keynote slides, augmented reality on an iPad, and the frantic pace of trying to turn an idea into a business.

Like its predecessors, the spot is fun. In this case, it’s also an inspiring, if not awkwardly humorous look at the life of an entrepreneur trying to bootstrap an idea into a business. Even though the video is clearly meant to be a lighthearted look at the subject, it’s really good. 

The spot comes as millions of people are leaving their jobs as part of what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” The Labor Department says 47 million people quit their jobs last year. There are a lot of reasons for that trend, but the bottom line is that a lot of people can probably relate to the underdogs in Apple’s video. 

One of the most interesting things about the trend of people walking away from their job is the number of people who quit to pursue starting a business. According to the Census Bureau, there were a record 5.4 million new businesses started last year.

For many people, the only thing scarier than quitting your job is starting a new business. The truth is, starting a business is really hard. There are no guarantees that all of your hard work will lead to success, and most of the time you’re working long hours in hopes that you might convince someone to give you money for whatever it is that you’re selling. Most small businesses fail.

I don’t think there’s any question that every entrepreneur could use all the help they can get. Apple wants to help.

Apple has tried hard to convince the world that its products and services are up to whatever job you might have. That’s not a small thing considering that most people don’t think of Apple as serving businesses. They think of Microsoft when it comes to productivity software, Slack when it comes to communication, Google when it comes to email, and Salesforce when it comes to managing customer data. 

At the same time, the Mac has never been more popular, and there are over 1.5 billion iPhones in use. That’s a lot of people already using Apple products, and many of them are using them for work. 

To that end, the video does a great job of highlighting how the company’s devices and software “just work.” It shows the team meeting on FaceTime calls, collaborating on Numbers spreadsheets and Keynote slides.

They send Messages and AirDrop files. They use Siri to send messages and set reminders. They send Calendar invites and interview new hires using FaceTime. We’ll set aside, for a moment, the fact that I don’t know anyone who has business meetings via FaceTime. As for the rest of the video, it’s absolutely true that the rest of the tools are great for just about any small business.

I think that’s what is so brilliant about the video–it connects with something that millions of people are already experiencing. Not only that, it does it in a way that’s funny, inspiring, relatable, and useful. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Context – Understanding the great resignation

The Great Resignation? More like The Great Renegotiation

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January 25, 20226:30 AM ET


The Great Renegotiation


There’s been much hubbub in recent months about what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation.” The popular phrase refers to the roughly 33 million Americans who have quit their jobs since the spring of 2021. Some — pointing to the difficulty of businesses in recruiting workers and spectacles like the immense popularity of the “Anti-Work” thread on Reddit — have gone as far as to suggest this record-breaking trend is a movement of young, able-bodied Americans rejecting work altogether.

This first appeared in NPR’s Planet Money newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter so you don’t miss the next one.

But it’s pretty clear that, at least for the vast majority of Americans quitting their jobs, that’s not the case. Americans are not en masse rejecting consumerism, moving off the grid, and living off the land. Most still need money. Some of those quitting are older workers deciding to retire early in large part because their finances have been buoyed by surging stock and housing markets. Others are secondary earners who have stayed home because they have had to take care of kids while schools have closed due to COVID-19 — or because, more simply, working face to face during a pandemic sucks.

Quitting to get better pay or treatment isn’t unusual

However, most Americans quitting their jobs merely seem to be aiming to get better jobs. While we are living in a bizarre pandemic economy with countless strange trends, this isn’t necessarily one of them; it’s pretty standard to see a swell of workers quitting their jobs for greener pastures when the job market is strong and there are lots of shiny opportunities available. When the stars align as they’re aligning now, workers gun for better pay, perks, flexibility, and treatment. Bargaining power has shifted in their favor.


No shortage of labor stories

That’s why we at Planet Money think it might be better to call what’s going on “The Great Renegotiation.” We coined this term in a recent episode called “No shortage of labor stories.” In that episode we spoke with Karin Kimbrough, the chief economist of LinkedIn. Kimbrough approved of our rebranding, and she pointed us to her company’s treasure trove of data to back it up. “There are twice as many jobs on our platform as there were a year ago,” Kimbrough said. With lots of open jobs, workers have greater power to negotiate a better position.

As for why the labor force participation rate remains significantly smaller than before the pandemic and it’s still hard for employers to fill open jobs, Kimbrough said: “I think that the workers are there, but the terms haven’t yet drawn them off the sidelines. They are hesitating or being more choosy for a variety of really good reasons. They may say, ‘I don’t want to take the risk, and in order to make it worth my while to go out there and work again, you need to actually pay me a little bit more.'”

Low-wage service workers look for something better

The workers who use LinkedIn tend to be higher-income professionals. Indeed, many of these types of workers are negotiating for better pay and amenities, such as continuing to be able to work from home. But the Great Renegotiation seems to be primarily a story about low-wage workers, according to a recent report by Ben Casselman at The New York Times. Low-wage workers in the leisure and hospitality sectors have the highest rate of quitting. In November alone, a record-breaking 1 million leisure and hospitality workers quit their jobs. And that was before omicron started surging.


Why full employment doesn’t mean everyone has a job

With places like hotels, bars and restaurants seeking to hire — or rehire — scores of workers as Americans began spending on services again, there have been many employers simultaneously competing for their labor. That creates an environment where quitting for something better makes a lot of sense. Now with omicron surging, these low-wage service workers have an additional reason to quit or demand better pay.

The Great Renegotiation is also a byproduct of inflation. Workers are seeking better pay to keep up with the rising cost of living. Interestingly, workers in the leisure and hospitality sectors saw their hourly earnings increase by 12.3% in November, well outpacing inflation. Yet, despite all the quitting and renegotiating, the real wage for the average American worker — meaning the true value of their paycheck after taking into account inflation — fell by 2.4% in 2021. In a recent poll by The New York Times and Momentum, only about 17% of Americans said their pay was keeping up with surging prices.


How to ask for a raise: Know your value (and bring the evidence)

For much of 2021, American leaders told us that inflation would be temporary. But there are growing fears of a wage-price spiral in which workers, seeing rising prices, demand higher pay — and companies, having to pay their workers more, start charging higher prices. These higher prices lead workers to demand even higher pay, leading companies to charge higher prices, and so on. It’s the inflationary cycle of nightmares.

In the short term, the Great Renegotiation seems like a great development for many American workers, especially low-wage workers. Many are seeing gains in their material standard of living after years of stagnant pay. Let’s hope, however, this trend doesn’t become fuel for a wage-price spiral that leaves most Americans worse off.

Forts de performances économiques et financières toujours plus impressionnantes, les Gafam s’attaquent à de nouvelles frontières.

Les arbres ne montent pas jus- qu’au ciel », selon le vieil adage boursier qui dissuade les investisseurs naïfs de penser que les actions peuvent battre record sur record. Pourtant, la vague de résultats financiers que viennent de publier Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon et Alphabet, la maison mère de Google, laisse songeur.

Source: Le Soir – Le Figaro

Les cinq géants technologiques américains ont tous affiché des taux de croissance de leurs revenus compris entre 14 et 27 % en 2019 et de confortables profits. Le chiffre d’affaires annuel de Google a dépassé les 161 mil- liards de dollars, celui de Microsoft 125milliards et celui d’Amazon 280,5milliards. Ces performances ont propulsé les capitalisations boursières d’Apple, Amazon et Microsoft à leur plus haut historique. À l’exception de Facebook, tous sont entrés dans le club fermé des 1.000 milliards de dollars de valeur en Bourse.

Screenshot 2020 02 14 at 22 21 10

Si chacun de ces groupes a ses particularités, son domaine d’activité dominant (publicité, e-commerce, smart- phones, etc.), ces résultats valident la puissance de leur modèle économique et de leurs écosystèmes respectifs, qui s’enrichissent et s’étendent avec l’exploitation de la matière brute et précieuse que sont les données. Leur capacité à innover sur un marché, avec des effets de réseaux très importants, et à dégager des marges importantes leur a permis d’investir massivement dans d’autres technologies et de pénétrer de nouveaux domaines.

Screenshot 2020 02 14 at 22 25 09

Un cercle vertueux
Apple a ainsi construit un système d’abonnements à des services de contenus vidéos, de jeux et d’applications aux détenteurs de produits Apple. Google, Amazon et Microsoft multiplient les services aux entreprises basés sur leurs capacités de stockage informatique de leurs données. « Nos investissements dans l’informatique profonde, y compris l’intelligence artificielle, l’informatique ambiante et le cloud computing, fournissent une base solide pour une croissance continue et de nouvelles opportunités à travers Alphabet», a ainsi expliqué le PDG de Google, Sundar Pichai, aux analystes financiers, évoquant ainsi les perspectives futures du groupe. Pour les géants de la tech, un cercle vertueux s’enclenche, que rien jusqu’ici ne semble pouvoir freiner.

Cette puissance financière et commerciale leur donne une certaine maîtrise de la concurrence sur leurs marchés, au travers de rachat de sociétés prometteuses ou de pratiques parfois dénoncées. En début d’année, le fabricant d’enceintes Sonos, qui a attaqué Google pour avoir violé des brevets, ra- contait, exemples à l’appui, comment certains géants utilisaient leur pouvoir de marché pour imposer leurs conditions ou tordre le bras de plus petits compétiteurs. «Aujourd’hui, les groupes dominants ont tellement de pouvoir sur un éventail si large de marchés et profitent tellement de ce pouvoir pour se développer sur de nouveaux marchés que nous avons be- soin de repenser les lois et réglementa- tions existantes», a témoigné Patrick Spence, le PDG de Sonos, lors d’une audition au Congrès américain le 17 janvier.

Fin des tabous
Car l’appétit des Gafam est loin d’être rassasié. Leur hyperpuissance leur per- met aussi de s’attaquer une à une à de nouvelles frontières. Champions dans leur domaine respectif, concurrents sur certaines plates-bandes, alliés
quand leur intérêt l’exige – ils travaillent ensemble à définir un standard de communication commun pour la maison connectée –, tous sont d’ores et déjà concentrés sur des gâteaux en- core plus grands : l’argent, la santé et la sécurité. La réaction vive et mondiale au projet de monnaie numérique Libra annoncé par Facebook en juin dernier a démontré la sensibilité du sujet pour les États, mais aussi qu’aucune frontière n’était plus taboue.

Jusqu’ici, les géants américains de la tech ont rencontré peu d’obstacles à leur expansion. Très présent dans les débats, l’appel à de nouvelles régulations tarde à se traduire dans les faits, aussi bien sur les questions de concurrence que d’éthique. Ces sujets n’ont pas été des thèmes forts de la cam- pagne américaine. Les différents manquements en matière de protection des données n’ont pas détourné les utilisateurs. Les plus importantes sanctions financières prononcées ont été rapide- ment absorbées. Et les multiples en- quêtes en cours peuvent encore prendre des années.
Aucune concurrence n’est aujourd’hui en capacité de les défier, si ce n’est celle d’autres géants technologiques en pleine expansion en Chine. Un chiffon rouge d’ailleurs régulièrement agité par les dirigeants des Gafam à quiconque souhaite les entraver.


De son nouvel entrepôt de Brétigny- sur-Orge, Amazon livre ses clients plus rapidement encore. En 24 heures, voire en 12 heures, ils peuvent réceptionner chez eux leurs commandes. Et pour livrer un nombre croissant de consommateurs dans les temps, Amazon ouvrira en mai un nouveau centre de distribution à Senlis, le 23e dans l’Hexagone.

En France comme ailleurs dans le monde, Amazon investit continuelle- ment pour améliorer l’expérience d’achat de ses clients… et conserver une longueur d’avance sur ses concurrents. Cette stratégie porte ses fruits : grâce à la multiplication des centres de stockage autour des métropoles, Amazon a multiplié par quatre, au dernier trimestre 2019, le nombre de ses livraisons en moins de 24 heures et conquis à ce jour
150 millions d’abonnés.

En habituant les consommateurs à être livrés dans ces délais, Amazon crée de nouveaux standards. Il contraint ses concurrents à lui emboîter le pas et à se lancer dans de lourds investissements, sans rentabilité immédiate. L’activité commerce d’Amazon n’est pour l’instant pas rentable en Europe, contrairement aux États-Unis. Lorsque ses clients européens se seront habitués à la livraison rapide, le géant américain relèvera probablement ses prix et parviendra à y gagner de l’argent. Le coût de l’abonnement prime a été relevé de 20 dollars en 2018 aux États-Unis, sans qu’Amazon ne constate d’hémorragie chez ses abonnés.

Un Golden Globe, davantage de chaussures
Mais « Amazon peut se permettre de perdre de l’argent à court terme, sur trois, quatre ou cinq ans, pour en gagner à long terme », explique Julien Dutreuil, associé chez Bartle. Ce luxe n’est pas à la portée de tous les distributeurs physiques, encombrés par de coûteux magasins en durs, et par ailleurs contraints de tenir leurs prix.
Amazon dame aussi le pion à la concurrence en incitant les clients à s’abonner à son offre prime. Lorsque celle-ci a été créée en 2005, le montant de l’abonnement a été fixé pour qu’il soit « engageant » : puisqu’ils paient une somme conséquente, les utilisateurs de prime ont intérêt à recourir largement à Amazon. Et de fait, ils dépensent 130 % de plus que les non-abonnés. Amazon offre désormais à ces clients privilégiés un accès à son catalogue de livres et de films en streaming. « Lorsque nous gagnons un Golden Globe, cela nous aide à vendre plus de chaussures », considère Jeff Bezos. Tout est fait pour que le consommateur vive dans l’écosystème Amazon, sans aller voir ailleurs.
Le livre a été le premier secteur secoué par le géant américain. « Les loisirs, les jouets et l’électronique restent les secteurs les plus touchés », relève la fédération du commerce spécialisé. Les distributeurs traditionnels ont d’abord été pris de court. Ils ont voulu croire que l’essor de l’e-commerce ne représentait pas un danger pour leur activité, avant de se rendre à l’évidence. Aujourd’hui, «ils peuvent tirer parti de leur spécificité, de leur connaissance produits pour conserver leur clientèle », estime Grégoire Beaudry, associé chez Bain.

La partie n’est pas perdue. Malgré l’excellence de l’expérience client d’Amazon, les enseignes physiques restent appréciées des clients. Amazon a été l’enseigne préférée des Français presque sans interruption de 2012 à 2016. L’entreprise est désormais reléguée à la 9e place du classement d’OC&C, tandis que Décathlon, Picard et Grand Frais sont en tête. Amazon lui-même, qui a racheté la chaîne Whole Food Market aux États-Unis et a ouvert des supérettes automatisées Amazon go, croit à l’avenir du magasin…

FOCUS 2: Les Banques

Longtemps redoutée, l’irruption des Gafam dans la banque est en train de devenir une réalité. Amazon serait ainsi sur le point de s’associer à Gold- man Sachs pour proposer aux États- Unis, sur sa plateforme, des prêts aux petites entreprises, selon le Financial Times. Seules les sociétés vendant leurs produits via son site d’e-commerce
pourraient en bénéficier.
Un moyen efficace pour trouver des
clients et limiter les risques, puisque Amazon dispose de beaucoup d’informations financières sur ses fournisseurs. Goldman Sachs, qui veut se dé- ployer dans la banque de détail, a déjà noué un partenariat avec Apple et lancé outre-Atlantique, l’été dernier, l’Apple Card. À l’automne, c’était au tour de Google de dévoiler un projet de compte courant pour les particuliers en 2020, en partenariat avec la banque Citigroup.
Jusqu’à présent, les Gafam ont poussé leurs pions dans le paiement avec des technologies embarquées dans les smartphones de leurs clients. À l’image d’Apple Pay ou de Google Pay, qui permettent de payer dans les commerces avec son téléphone portable. Cette offensive pourrait leur rapporter (ainsi qu’aux start-up de la finance) 280 mil- liards de dollars en 2025, selon une étude d’Accenture.

Nouveau canal de propagation d’une crise financière ?
« Il est logique qu’après le paiement, les géants de la tech se développent dans les services financiers », explique Thierry Mennesson, « partner » chez Oliver Wyman. C’est d’ailleurs ce qu’ont fait les géants chinois de la tech comme Tencent (avec WeChat Pay) ou Alibaba (Alipay), qui proposent désormais, en plus du paiement, de l’épargne ou du crédit à la consommation. «Ces groupes cherchent à entretenir une relation de plus en plus profonde avec leurs clients. Leur objectif est de récupérer leurs données sur les revenus, les dépenses ou les enseignes préférées, et de les monétiser », ajoute Thierry Mennesson.
Parce que s’attaquer au marché bancaire très réglementé est lourd aux États-Unis ou en Europe, les Gafam contournent – pour l’heure – l’obstacle en nouant de nouveaux types de partenariats avec des banques. Certains de ces établissements financiers sont peu présents dans la banque de détail, à l’image de Goldman Sachs. D’autres au contraire seraient prêts à se positionner comme fournisseurs de produits financiers à grande échelle. En prenant le risque de voir leurs offres cannibalisées par celle des géants de la tech.

« Les Gafam sont une menace très si- gnificative pour les banques aujour- d’hui », estime Bruno de Saint-Florent, associé chez Oliver Wyman. Une me- nace prise très au sérieux par les pou- voirs publics. En décembre, un rapport du Conseil de stabilité financière (FSB), émanant du G20, estimait que l’arrivée de ces nouveaux acteurs faisait peser un risque sur la stabilité du système financier. Le G20 s’inquiétait surtout du nouveau canal de propagation d’une crise financière.

L’année 2019 a été marquée par une recrudescence d’enquêtes antitrust contre Google, Amazon, Facebook et Apple. Toujours tout-puissants en Bourse, les Gafa sont attaqués de toutes parts et vont devoir répondre de leur prédominance en 2020. (Les Echos)


Damien Meyer/AFP

Publié le 2 janv. 2020 à 12h06
Mis à jour le 2 janv. 2020 à 20h38

Quid des Gafa en 2020 ? Après une année rocambolesque, marquée par la multiplication des enquêtes antitrust et la persistance de leur toute-puissance boursière, les Google, Apple, Facebook et Amazon ont du pain sur la planche. Attaqués de toutes parts, ils vont notamment devoir répondre de leur prédominance sur le marché publicitaire ou encore à la controverse sur l’utilisation des données personnelles. Tour en douze questions des principaux enjeux de cette année.

Où en sont les enquêtes sur les Gafa ?

L’année 2019 aura vu les enquêtes se multiplier pour les Gafa. La plupart seront longues et elles s’annoncent acharnées. Les géants de la tech ont renforcé leurs équipes juridiques et sont désormais à la tête  d’une armée de lobbyistes, déployés à Washington, à Bruxelles et dans les principales capitales mondiales.

Mais le climat a clairement changé, en particulier dans la classe politique américaine, et les fronts se sont multipliés. Récemment, le président de la Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a confirmé qu’il menait plusieurs enquêtes, en plus de celle, déjà annoncée, concernant Facebook – qui pourrait chercher à bloquer l’intégration des différentes applications, Facebook, Instagram et WhatsApp. Il n’a pas cité de noms, mais il s’agit de « plates-formes aux activités multiples, soupçonnées de pratiques illégales et dont les acquisitions ont été approuvées par les autorités de régulation »…

Aux Etats-Unis, le Département de la Justice a aussi entre les mains le dossier Facebook. Le secrétaire à la Justice, William Barr, a indiqué que le passage en revue des activités concernerait des sujets différents de ceux étudiés par la FTC. Et le Congrès a mis en place ses propres commissions d’enquête sur les Gafa…

Des procédures encore différentes de celles menées au niveau des Etats.  Cinquante procureurs généraux, représentant 48 Etats, se sont en effet regroupés pour chercher à savoir si Google et Facebook ont violé les règles sur la concurrence aux Etats-Unis. Le Texas, qui mène l’enquête sur Google, a récemment indiqué qu’il étendait son enquête, jusqu’ici cantonnée aux activités publicitaires du géant, à Android et au moteur de recherche. L’Etat de New York, qui dirige celle sur Facebook, n’exclut pas de s’intéresser également à la vie privée.

Des préoccupations partagées par l’Europe : Bruxelles vient de lancer une enquête préliminaire sur la collecte et la monétisation des données des utilisateurs de Google.

Les Gafa seront-ils démantelés ?

L’élection présidentielle de novembre prochain aux Etats-Unis donne des sueurs froides à certains acteurs de la Tech. La démocrate  Elizabeth Warren a notamment jugé qu’il était « temps de démanteler Google, Amazon et Facebook ». Elle conteste leur emprise sur la société mais juge aussi que leur poids nuit désormais à l’émergence de nouveaux acteurs innovants.

Sa proposition : séparer la propriété de l’outil technique et son usage quand un groupe dépasse 25 milliards de dollars de chiffre d’affaires. Donald Trump lui-même assure ne pas être très fan des Gafa, mais il les défend dans leur combat fiscal contre la France et n’a pas légiféré pour limiter leur influence. Joe Biden, en tête des sondages pour l’investiture démocrate, a pour l’instant surtout critiqué – parce qu’il en a été victime – les fausses publicités diffusées sans contrôle par Facebook.

Plus que le démantèlement, c’est une régulation plus serrée que les Gafa peuvent craindre, avec de multiples entrées possibles : la concurrence déloyale (quand Apple ou Amazon privilégient leurs services à partir de leurs produits ou de leur plate-forme), la protection et le partage des données personnelles ou encore la réglementation publicitaire, qui reste le coeur des revenus de Google et Facebook.

Qui aura la meilleure part du gâteau publicitaire ?

Plutôt que des Gafa, il faut surtout parler de Google et de Facebook quand il s’agit de mesurer le poids de ces acteurs dans les recettes publicitaires. Google a passé  la barre des 40 milliards de dollars de chiffre d’affaires au troisième trimestre, dont 83 % dans la publicité numérique, et Facebook 18 milliards de dollars de revenus en un trimestre. Selon l’institut Warc, les deux acteurs ont capté l’an dernier 56 % de la publicité numérique mondiale, un chiffre qui pourrait grimper à 61 % cette année. Rapportée au marché total de la publicité – en ligne et traditionnelle -, leur part était encore de près de 25 % l’an dernier.

Google et Facebook voient désormais  entrer sur leur terrain de jeu Amazon. La plate-forme, qui profite de ses places de marché et de sa connaissance fine des consommateurs pour envoyer des messages ciblés, pourrait capter 10 milliards de dollars de recettes publicitaires sur le marché américain cette année, soit près de 8 % du marché, selon une étude de e-marketer.

Les grandes plates-formes risquent donc de continuer à prendre des parts de marché sur les acteurs historiques que sont notamment les éditeurs de presse et la télévision. Et les tentatives de régulation et de partage des revenus se sont pour l’instant heurtées à un mur. Comme avec la « taxe Gafa » sur le chiffre d’affaires des grandes plates-formes, la France, qui a été  la première à avoir transposé la directive européenne sur le droit voisin pour la presse, espère faire reconnaître un abus de position dominante de Google et parvenir à un accord.

Ont-ils gagné la bataille du cloud ?

La tortue européenne peut-elle rattraper le lièvre américain ? Dans le domaine des infrastructures informatiques à la demande, la fable a peu de chances de se terminer comme dans la version originale. Les trois géants du cloud – Amazon, Microsoft et Google – ont pris dix ans d’avance sur la concurrence.

Le premier a inventé le concept avec sa filiale AWS créée en 2006. Il contrôle aujourd’hui plus du tiers de ce fabuleux marché, évalué à 100 milliards de dollars en 2019, et en croissance de 40 % par an. Son premier poursuivant, Microsoft Azure, est deux fois plus petit. Google Cloud quatre fois. A eux trois, c’est plus de la moitié du gâteau mondial du cloud. Avec les profits, mais aussi  les innovations et les économies d’échelle qui vont avec. A côté, le champion tricolore OVH, avec ses 600 millions d’euros de revenus attendus en 2019 – soit moins de 1 % du marché mondial -, pèse très peu.

Les seuls à pouvoir faire un peu d’ombre à l’Oncle Sam, ce sont les géants chinois du cloud : Alibaba et Tencent. Ce dernier vient d’annoncer  un investissement de plus de 10 milliards d’euros dans ses infrastructures cloud en Europe. Et en a profité pour expliquer aux autorités du Vieux Continent que la compétition mondiale était « largement passée ».

L’Europe a pourtant encore des ambitions, dopées par les inquiétudes  sur la protection des données personnelles ou industrielles. La France sonde ainsi les industriels tricolores pour bâtir  un « cloud de confiance », sept ans après l’échec fracassant des « clouds souverains »  Numergy et Cloudwatt. L’Allemagne pousse un  « cloud européen » baptisé Gaia-X. La volonté politique suffira-t-elle ? Il y a quelques années, la possibilité, voire l’intérêt, de concurrencer le GPS américain avec Galileo paraissait mince. Et pourtant il tourne…

Les banques vont-elles disparaître au profit des Gafa ?

Apple, qui  vient de lancer une carte bancaire avec Goldman Sachs, Google, qui se prépare à proposer un compte courant avec Citigroup l’an prochain… Depuis leur entrée sur le marché des moyens de paiement avec Apple Pay ou Google Pay, les Gafa misent sur le secteur bancaire pour se diversifier. Certains ont même des ambitions plus grandes, comme Facebook qui avait réuni une palette de partenaires bancaires pour lancer une cryptomonnaie, le Libra.

L’offensive de Facebook sur un sujet éminemment souverain a finalement déclenché plus de craintes que d’admiration, au moment où Mark Zuckerberg est la cible de critiques tous azimuts de la part des régulateurs et des parlementaires. Résultat, le projet de Libra est regardé avec circonspection et les partenaires bancaires sont partis un à un.

« Le Libra, c’est pour l’instant surtout une idée mais cela a forcé les régulateurs à se poser à nouveau la question de ce qu’est une banque », jugeait récemment un banquier américain. Début décembre, un rapport des superviseurs du G20 fédérés dans le Conseil de stabilité financière (FSB) a pointé  les risques que fait peser la « Big Tech » – avec des acteurs peu nombreux et maîtres du cloud – sur les performances des banques traditionnelles, et donc in fine sur la stabilité du système financier.

La santé, nouvel eldorado des Gafa?

Partenariat avec plusieurs laboratoires pharmaceutiques pour améliorer les essais cliniques, création de nouvelles divisions dédiées à la santé dirigées par des professeurs de médecine réputés, ouverture de cliniques pour leurs salariés… En 2019, les Gafa ont multiplié les annonces dans le domaine de la santé, un marché fragmenté représentant un cinquième du PIB des Etats-Unis qu’ils veulent disrupter.

La révélation en novembre par le « Wall Street Journal » du projet Nightingale de Google a confirmé le niveau  de leurs ambitions dans ce domaine. Ascension Health, le deuxième plus gros gestionnaire d’hôpitaux des Etats-Unis, a passé un partenariat avec le géant de Mountain View pour  transférer les dossiers médicaux de plus de 50 millions de patients vers ses serveurs informatiques. Objectif ? Suggérer des traitements aux médecins en appliquant ses outils d’intelligence artificielle aux données.

La nouvelle a suivi de peu l’annonce de  son offre de rachat de Fitbit,le fabricant de bracelets connectés dont les dernières versions permettent de surveiller son sommeil et son rythme cardiaque. La société ne veut pas se laisser distancer par Apple, qui a déjà positionné sa montre connectée comme appareil préventif. Depuis l’année dernière, deux des plus gros assureurs américains subventionnent les Apple Watch. Le géant à la pomme pourrait aller plus loin cette année avec des appareils mesurant le taux de glucose. Reste un mur à franchir :  la surveillance accrue des régulateurs et la défiance des patients à la suite des différents scandales sur leurs traitements des données.

Fiscalité du numérique : jusqu’où ira le duel Washington-Paris ?

Tout est à refaire, ou presque. Alors que les négociations semblaient avancer à l’OCDE, Paris et Washington ont connu un automne brûlant. L’administration Trump avait pourtant donné des signaux positifs, envisageant une solution concertée au niveau international et adoubant les  principes énoncés par l’OCDE (taxation des activités dans un pays même si la société n’a pas de présence physique, définition d’un taux minimum d’impôt sur les sociétés…).

Mais depuis, elle a fait volte-face et fait savoir à ses partenaires que, pour elle, ces mesures ne pouvaient être que… facultatives. Et en attendant qu’une solution soit trouvée, qui remplacerait la taxe Gafa adoptée en France, Washington a annoncé des  mesures de représailles, qui pourraient taxer jusqu’à 100 % des fromages français, du champagne, etc. Un arsenal soumis à une consultation publique jusqu’au 14 janvier.

Dans l’immédiat, les grandes plates-formes vont devoir s’acquitter des taxes en France. Elles pourraient être remboursées si une solution internationale était adoptée et que cet impôt était moins élevé que la taxe française. Mais, pour cela, il faudra se rasseoir à la table des négociations…

En attendant, Google a annoncé cette semaine qu’il arrêterait d’utiliser un mécanisme d’optimisation fiscale « Double Irish, Double Dutch sandwich » qui lui permettait de repousser le paiement de ses impôts aux Etats-Unis. Washington avait exhorté les sociétés qui y avaient recours à mettre fin à cette pratique avant 2020.

Les salariés des Gafa vont-ils suivre ou se rebeller ?

Ramener les entreprises technologiques dans le droit chemin : c’est la mission que se fixe un nombre croissant de salariés des Gafa. Longtemps apathiques,  quelques milliers d’entre eux multiplient désormais les manifestations et lettres ouvertes pour protester contre les pratiques internes et les choix stratégiques de leurs employeurs. Une douzaine est même allée jusqu’à démissionner.

La mobilisation est particulièrement forte chez Google, entreprise qui a toujours encouragé ses salariés à exprimer leurs opinions. Après la manifestation d’un quart des effectifs du groupe en novembre 2018 à la suite du traitement généreux de dirigeants accusés de harcèlement sexuel, leur activisme a permis d’améliorer les conditions de travail des intérimaires, de stopper la fourniture d’outils d’intelligence artificielle au Pentagone et de mettre fin à un projet de retour du moteur de recherche en Chine.

Le géant de Mountain View cherche désormais à torpiller une mobilisation qui ne faiblit pas. Après avoir réduit l’accès des « Googlers » aux documents ne les concernant pas directement, il a diminué le champ et la fréquence des réunions permettant aux salariés d’interroger la direction puis licencié cinq salariés activistes au cours des deux derniers mois. Reste à voir si cela sera suffisant pour étouffer un mouvement qui, s’il reste limité à une minorité d’employés, est de plus en plus vocal. Et si cette résistance ne va pas plutôt pousser les activistes à former un véritable syndicat.

Quel sera leur parcours boursier ?

Malgré les enquêtes qui se multiplient, malgré la guerre commerciale qui les a  sérieusement menacés, les Gafa ont battu des records boursiers en 2019, dans le sillage d’un Nasdaq qui a gagné 36 % en un an. Amazon a gagné 23 %, Alphabet 28 %, Facebook s’est envolé de 56 % et Apple de 85 % ! Ce dernier a engrangé plus de 530 milliards de capitalisation boursière en douze mois. Les marchés ont salué leurs résultats, portés par le contexte économique favorable aux Etats-Unis. Difficile, a priori, de faire mieux en 2020, alors que Wall Street pourrait hésiter face aux incertitudes internationales et se montrer relativement attentiste jusqu’à l’élection présidentielle américaine.

Les analystes s’attendent néanmoins à voir Apple franchir allègrement la barre des 300 dollars à la Bourse de New York, porté par les ventes de ses accessoires lors des fêtes de fin d’année. Ceux-ci (les AirPods et les Apple Watch notamment) pourraient doper les résultats du quatrième trimestre.

Les voyants sont aussi au vert pour Facebook. Les analystes d’Aegis Capital ont récemment relevé leur objectif de cours de 235 dollars à 300 dollars (contre un peu plus de 200 actuellement), optimistes sur les progrès de la monétisation de WhatsApp et Messenger, deux services contrôlés par le géant des réseaux sociaux. Quant à Amazon, UBS a fixé un objectif à 2.100 dollars par action sur douze mois, contre un peu plus de 1.800 actuellement, enthousiasmé par les activités de cloud.

Gafa versus BATX chinois : qui va gagner ?En 2020, la bataille va toujours faire rage entre les Gafa et les  BATX chinois. Derrière cet acronyme se cachent Baidu (moteur de recherche et voiture autonome), Alibaba (e-commerce et paiement mobile), Tencent (réseaux sociaux et jeux vidéo) et Xiaomi,  le quatrième fabricant mondial de smartphones.

Les quatre géants chinois sont les seules entreprises au monde à avoir l’échelle et la puissance de frappe financière pour rivaliser avec les Gafa américains. Avec 1,1 milliard d’utilisateurs sur sa messagerie WeChat, Tencent talonne Facebook (2,4 milliards de personnes) et sa capitalisation boursière fait des grands pas (458 milliards de dollars contre 585 milliards pour Facebook). Comme les Gafa, les BATX ont aussi enclenché un énorme mouvement de diversification (vers la voiture autonome, les contenus, l’intelligence artificielle…) fondé sur la croissance externe. Leur méthode privilégiée de développement reste en effet les acquisitions, tandis que sur ce terrain les Gafa américains sont plus prudents.

De plus en plus présents en Europe,  à l’image de Tencent qui vient de racheter 10 % du capital du français Universal Music, les BATX le sont toutefois encore peu aux Etats-Unis, en raison de la méfiance qu’ils suscitent, particulièrement depuis l’arrivée de Donald Trump à la Maison Blanche.

A ce stade, seule TikTok, l’application de vidéos éphémères du chinois ByteDance, a fait une percée fulgurante. Plus de 26 millions d’Américains utilisent la plate-forme, dont 60 % ont entre 16 et 24 ans, selon les chiffres officiels. Mieux, en 2018, TikTok a été davantage téléchargée dans le pays que Facebook, Instagram ou Snapchat.

Quels progrès peut-on attendre sur la protection de la vie privée ?

C’est la question explosive qui a fait tomber Facebook de son piédestal et forcé Mark Zuckerberg à multiplier les actes de contrition après  le scandale Cambridge Analytica . Comment empêcher les données personnelles des internautes d’être amassées, redistribuées et utilisées à tort et à travers pour des motifs parfois peu avouables ? C’est tout le modèle économique d’Internet – et de Google et Facebook en premier lieu – qui est en question.

Une pseudo-gratuité où, pour accéder à des services de grande qualité devenus parfois quasi indispensables, il faut accepter d’être pisté en permanence. Ce que Shoshana Zuboff résume par le titre de  son récent ouvrage : « L’âge du capitalisme de surveillance » . Où je suis, qui je contacte, qu’est-ce que j’aime… quantité d’informations peuvent dresser un portrait unique et extrêmement précis d’un individu.

« Les ‘J’aime’ sur Facebook permettent de déduire l’orientation sexuelle avec une précision de 88 % », note l’Institut Montaigne dans  une récente étude sur l’insuffisante protection des données personnelles . De quoi faire le bonheur des annonceurs… mais aussi le miel des services d’espionnage, le lit des fake news et le malheur de la démocratie.

Une prise de conscience s’amorce. Facebook comme Google offrent des outils aux utilisateurs pour gérer leurs informations personnelles. Apple fait de la protection de la vie privée  un argument marketing phare , même s’il ne peut pas contrôler toutes les données personnelles exfiltrées par les applications mobiles pour iPhone. L’Europe, suivie par la Californie ou l’Inde, a durci son cadre légal avec le RGPD.

Est-ce suffisant ? Certains plaident pour  un renforcement drastique de ces garde-fous. Mais certainement pas les Gafa. Les mauvaises pratiques de Facebook en matière de respect de la vie privée lui ont déjà valu  5 milliards de dollars d’amende aux Etats-Unis l’été dernier. Un cadre plus restrictif sur le pistage des internautes coûterait autrement plus cher à la tech américaine.

Quelles sont les grandes innovations attendues en 2020 ?

En 2020, les Gafa vont devoir réaffirmer leur capacité d’innovation, parfois « folle », dans tous les domaines. Voiture autonome, cerveau connecté, conquête de l’espace, réalité virtuelle… sont autant de chantiers.

Entre eux, c’est à celui qui surprendra le plus avec une innovation hors norme. Facebook cherche carrément  à supprimer la commande manuelle des smartphones et des ordinateurs, avec, à terme, un bracelet décodant l’activité des neurones en signaux numériques. La simple intention de poster une photo sur Instagram… suffirait à déclencher l’action !

Google lui met les bouchées doubles sur la voiture autonome, après l’acquisition d’une start-up britannique qui apprend aux machines à répliquer le comportement des humains. Le géant de Mountain View espère ainsi améliorer la réaction de ses véhicules autonomes en cas d’événement imprévu, par exemple lorsqu’un piéton traverse subitement la rue.

Amazon, pour sa part, a promis de lancer « dans les prochains mois » son nouveau drone autonome et électrique, Prime Air, qui pourra livrer les colis aux clients situés dans un rayon de 24 kilomètres en seulement…une demie-heure.

Apple travaille sur un casque de réalité augmentée, alors que l’entreprise  se renforce dans les jeux vidéos  avec Arcade et  les contenus avec Apple TV+. L’appétit d’Apple pour la réalité augmentée est devenu encore plus manifeste fin 2019  avec le rachat de la start-up Ikinema, son huitième rachat dans ce secteur au cours des dernières années.

Il faut aussi s’attendre à des prouesses côté puissance de calcul.  Google a ainsi revendiqué avoir atteint la « suprématie quantique » en mettant au point un algorithme qu’un ordinateur classique est incapable de faire tourner, provoquant un bras de fer avec IBM, qui conteste l’avancée de son concurrent.

La maison du futur devrait aussi être un enjeu important. Mouvement fort dans ce secteur où les Gafa ont longtemps été rivaux avec des écosystèmes concurrents (Assistant pour Google, Siri chez Apple et Alexa côté Amazon) :  les trois géants viennent de faire la paix pour élaborer d’ici à la fin 2020 un protocole commun.  Objectif : pouvoir piloter les différents objets connectés de la maison depuis n’importe quelle interface, et supprimer ainsi les problèmes actuels d’incompatibilité, dans ce secteur en pleine explosion. Un vrai changement d’ère…


Véronique Le Billon et Nicolas Rauline à New York, Anaïs Moutot à San Francisco, Sébastien Dumoulin, Raphaël Balenier

Meaningful Business: 30 multinationales américaines demandent à Amazon et Apple de mettre la planète avant leur profit

Dans une pleine page de publicité publiée dans le New York Times, plus de 30 patrons de grands groupes américains exhortent à plus de morale dans le business.
Crédit : Getty / Petmal


La démarche est suffisamment étonnante pour être remarquée. Plus de 30 multinationales américaines, dont Danone, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia ou The Body Shop ont publié hier dans le New York Times une pleine page de publicité pour lancer un appel aux puissants membres de Business Roundtable, un lobby qui regroupe plus de 150 dirigeants des plus grandes entreprises US, dont Amazon et Apple. Ce dernier a publié il y a une semaine un manifeste affirmant notamment : « les principaux employeurs investissent dans leurs travailleurs et leurs communautés, car ils savent que c’est le seul moyen de réussir à long terme. Ces principes modernisés reflètent l’engagement indéfectible du monde des affaires de continuer à faire pression pour une économie au service de tous les Américains. »

La trentaine de dirigeants qui signent la tribune prennent au mot Business Roundtable et exhortent ses membres à tenir leurs engagements. Ils déclarent ainsi, selon The Guardian : « nous sommes des entreprises performantes qui respectent les normes les plus strictes en matière d’impact positif vérifié pour nos travailleurs, nos clients, nos fournisseurs, les communautés et l’environnement. Nous fonctionnons avec un meilleur modèle de gouvernance d’entreprise – ce qui nous donne, et pourrait vous donner, un moyen de lutter contre le court terme et la liberté de prendre des décisions pour équilibrer profit et objectif. » Certifiées B Corp, ces entreprises encouragent fortement le lobby visé à les rejoindre et à pousser plus loin leurs efforts, comme ils se sont engagés à le faire dans leur récent manifeste. Andrew Kassoy, le co-fondateur de B Lab, l’association qui s’occupe du label, est très positif sur l’élan que cela pourrait donner à l’économie américaine : « c’est un changement culturel important et, certaines des plus grandes multinationales américaines reconnaissent le problème de la primauté des actionnaires (gagner autant d’argent que possible pour les investisseurs). Ils reconnaissent que cela ne produit pas le bon type de progrès économique, de lutte contre les inégalités ou le changement climatique, comme nous le souhaiterions. »

Simple publicité mal placée ou réelle prise de conscience ? Ce dialogue entre acteurs mondiaux de l’économie montre en tout cas que le sujet ne peut plus être ignoré, notamment par les entreprises majeures du numérique.

“Alexa, is there anything good happening on Prime Day this year?” “…Did you check eBay?”

Shop the Crash Sale starting 7/15.


Ebay has thrown down the gauntlet to Amazon announcing its very own “blockbuster” sales event to troll its online rival.

In an effort to cash in on the Amazon Prime day hype, Ebay has said it is set to launch a “Crash Sale”, a thinly veiled dig at Amazon’s propensity to crash during its Prime Day event, thought to have cost it around $90 million last year.

Ebay will offer discounts of up to 50 per cent on leading technology brands including Apple, Samsung, KitchenAid, Garmin and LG during Amazon’s 48-hour Prim Day event beginning on July 15.

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We’re crashing the party with deals on things you actually want. Stay tuned. 🎉

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However, if Amazon should crash during the event, Ebay has promised to pile on more “too-good-to-be-true” deals to abate shoppers need for a tech bargain.

This forms part of a wider sales event for Ebay, which will be offering deals of up to 85 per cent off certain items for three weeks starting July 1, including robot vacuums, stand mixers, smart home gear and more.

READ MORE: Amazon Prime Day to run for 48 hours for the first time

From July 1 – 7 this will take the form of “July 4th Savings”, followed by “Hot Deals for Hot Days” from July 8 -22 which will include daily deals on tech, appliances and smart home devices.

“Ebay is primed to deliver exactly what shoppers want during this year’s crash (sale),” vice president of Ebay Americas Jay Hanson said.

“July has become a massive shopping season, and our summer sales include blockbuster deals that will not disappoint.”

Récapitulatif des sociétés rachetées par Apple tout au long de 2018

L’année 2018 étant sur le point de se terminer, c’est l’occasion de regarder dans le rétroviseur et récapituler toutes les entreprises rachetées par Apple. Certaines acquisitions sont connues et d’autres non, parce qu’Apple est généralement discret sur le sujet.


— Buddybuild : une start-up canadienne qui propose un service en rapport avec le développement d’applications. Elle a rejoint l’équipe en charge de Xcode (l’outil que les développeurs utilisent pour créer leurs applications pour les produits Apple).


— Texture : un service qui peut être présenté comme le « Netflix des magazines ». Contre un abonnement mensuel, tout abonné peut lire en illimité de nombreux journaux et magazines. Le service devrait être intégré dans l’application Apple News à l’avenir.



— Akonia Holographics : une start-up américaine qui fabrique des verres utilisés dans des lunettes de réalité augmentée. Cette acquisition suggère de plus en plus qu’Apple veut se lancer dans le domaine des lunettes connectées.


— Shazam : application populaire qui permet d’identifier une musique en cours de lecture. L’application iOS et Android n’a plus de publicité depuis quelques jours, suite au rachat par Apple.


— Spektral : le rachat de cette société danoise a eu lieu en décembre 2017, mais n’a été dévoilé que cette année. Elle a conçu un outil qui sait séparer une personne ou un objet de l’arrière-plan, tout ça en temps réel.


— Silk Labs : une start-up consacrée à l’intelligence artificielle, dont ses créations peuvent être utilisées dans des produits comme des appareils photo et des enceintes.


— Platoon : une start-up qui a pour vocation de découvrir de nouveaux artistes musicaux.


Outre les acquisitions, il y a eu des embauches de personnes importantes chez d’autres boîtes, dont Silicon Valley Data Science, Dialog et Asaii. Apple n’a pas mis la main sur les sociétés en entier ici.

The 10 tech companies that have invested the most money in AI of the tech giants. Google is the biggest investor in AI by billions.

  • Google has invested the most in artificial intelligence (AI) out of the tech giants, according to research from RS Components.
  • Since the first acquisition in 1998, tech giants have spent nearly $8.6 billion on AI startups.v2-AI-innovations

Google has invested the most money in artificial intelligence (AI), according to research from RS Components. Tech giants have disclosed nearly $8.6 billion in acquisitions since 1998.

The company has spent nearly $3.9 billion in disclosed deals since 2006, with the bulk of that spent in its 2014 acquisition of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. The Nest Labs purchase was the single largest disclosed investment on RS Components’ list, which includes 103 startup purchases across 15 tech giants.

Here are the top 10 tech companies based on how much they’ve spent acquiring AI startups where the price was disclosed.

1. Google – $3.9 billion

2. Amazon – $871 million

3. Apple – $786 million

4. Intel – $776 million

5. Microsoft – $690 million

6. Uber – $680 million

7. Twitter – $629 million

8. AOL – $191.7 million

9. Facebook – $60 million

10. Salesforce – $32.8 million

Google continued its domination in total number of acquired startups, investing in 29 since its first, Neven Vision, in 2006. Apple grabbed second with 14, and Microsoft was third with nine.

Microsoft was the first to invest in AI, spending $40 million on Firefly Network in 1998. Google was next to invest, but didn’t do so for another eight years.

Here are the eight single biggest disclosed investments in AI startups to date.

1. Nest Labs – $3.2 billion

2. Kiva Systems – $775 million

3. Otto – $680 million

4. Deep Mind – $500 million

5. TellApart – $479 million

6. Movidius – $400 million

7. Nervana – $350 million

8. SwiftKey – $250 million

The pace and price of startup acquisitions are unlikely to drop as AI continues to grow as a technology.

 Here’s How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions – Alphabet & Facebook: Advertising

Source: Chart: Here’s How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions

on May 12, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Chart: How 5 Tech Giants Make Their Billions

The Revenue Streams of the Five Largest Tech Companies

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Last year, we published a chart showing that tech companies have displaced traditional blue chip companies like Exxon Mobil and Walmart as the most valuable companies in the world.

Here are the latest market valuations for those same five companies:

Rank Company Market Cap (Billions, as of May 11, 2017) Primary Revenue Driver
#1 Apple $804 Hardware
#2 Alphabet $651 Advertising
#3 Microsoft $536 Software
#4 Amazon $455 Online Retail
#5 Facebook $434 Advertising
TOTAL $2,880

Together, they are worth $2.9 trillion in market capitalization – and they combined in FY2016 for revenues of $555 billion with a $94 billion bottom line.


Despite all being at the top of the stock market food chain, the companies are at very different stages.

In 2016, Apple experienced its first annual revenue decline since 2001, but the company brought home a profit equal to that of all other four companies combined.

On the other hand, Amazon is becoming a revenue machine with very little margin, while Facebook generates 5x more profit despite far smaller top line numbers.

Company 2016 Revenue (Billions) 2016 Net Income (Billions) Margin
Apple $216 $46 21%
Alphabet $90 $19 21%
Microsoft $85 $17 20%
Amazon $136 $2 2%
Facebook $28 $10 36%


Each of these companies is pretty unique in how they generate revenue, though there is some overlap:

  • Facebook and Alphabet each make the vast majority of their revenues from advertising (97% and 88%, respectively)
  • Apple makes 63% of their revenue from the iPhone, and another 21% coming from the iPad and Mac lines
  • Amazon makes 90% from its “Product” and “Media” categories, and 9% from AWS
  • Microsoft is diverse: Office (28%), servers (22%), Xbox (11%), Windows (9%), ads (7%), Surface (5%), and other (18%)

Lastly, for fun, what if we added all these companies’ revenues together, and categorized them by source?

Category 2016 Revenue (Millions) % Total Description
Hardware $197,020 36% iPhone, iPad, Mac, Xbox, Surface
Online Retail $122,205 22% Amazon (Product and Media Categories)
Advertising $112,366 20% Google, Facebook, YouTube, Bing ads
Software $31,692 6% Office, Windows
Cloud/Server $31,396 6% AWS, Microsoft Server, Azure
Other $60,177 11% Consulting, other services (iTunes, Google Play), etc.
$554,856 100%

Note: this isn’t perfect. As an example, Amazon’s fast-growing advertising business gets lumped into their “Other” category.

Hardware, e-commerce, and and advertising make up 76% of all revenues.

Meanwhile, software isn’t the cash cow it used to be, but it does help serve as a means to an end for some companies. For example, Android doesn’t generate any revenue directly, but it does allow more users to buy apps in the Play Store and to search Google via their mobile devices. Likewise, Apple bundles in operating systems with each hardware purchase.

The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time |

Source: The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time |

Google Glass Prescriptions

John Minchillo—AP

Google Glass

Google Glass, which cost $1,500 ≈ High-end bicycle

“>[≈ Smartphone cost per year] for those invited to a sort of public beta test, never took off. The relatively powerful head-mounted computer provided important signals for the future of wearable technology. Glass showed that designers working on computing devices that are worn face a different set of assumptions and challenges. Glass, for example, made it easy for users to surreptitiously record video, which led some restaurants, bars and movie theaters to ban the device. Glass also showed the potential pitfalls of easily identifiable wearables, perhaps best proven by the coining of the term “Glassholes” for its early adopters. While Glass was officially shelved in 2015, augmented reality—displaying computer-generated images over the real world—is a concept many companies are still trying to perfect. Google included.

Makerbot Industries LLC Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer

Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Makerbot Replicator

The Makerbot Replicator was neither the first nor the best consumer-level 3-D printer. But it was the model that made the technology widely accessible for the first time, thanks to its sub-$2,000 [≈ One Starbucks latte per day for a year] price tag. The Replicator used inkjet printer-like technology to extrude hot plastic that took three-dimensional form as artwork, mechanical parts and more. As a company, Makerbot’s future is uncertain. But the firm’s equipment helped bring 3-D printing into the mainstream and is a fixture of many American classrooms.


David LeFranc—Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images


Why is the Segway personal scooter such a potent cultural symbol? Maybe it has something to do with providing a metaphor for increasingly out-of-shape Americans. Perhaps it was seeing a U.S. president fall off one. Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” video helped, too. The Segway—as hyped and as mocked as it has been—is a defining example of “last mile” transportation, an electric scooter designed to make walking obsolete. (Recently, the idea has been somewhat revived by the emergence of so-called hover boards, which are now also entering a kind of post-fad twilight.) The Segway’s symbolic impact greatly exceeded its commercial success. Unit sales never exceeded the six-figure mark before the firm was purchased by a Chinese interest in 2015 for an undisclosed sum.


Yamaha Clavinova Digital Piano

You could argue the Minimoog did far more for music tech, or that the Fairlight was cooler, but visit average U.S. households from the 1980s forward and you’re most likely to encounter the Clavinova. Yamaha’s popular digital piano married the look and compactness of a spinet (a smaller, shorter upright piano) with the modern qualities of a modest synthesizer. With a plausibly pianistic weighted action and space-saving footprint, it’s become a staple for parents looking to bring maintenance-free musicality—you never have to tune it—into households, all without sacrificing huge swathes of living space.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional

Kiyoshi Ota—Bloomberg/Getty Images

DJI Phantom

Small drones may soon be delivering our packages, recording our family get-togethers and helping first responders find people trapped in a disaster. For now, they’re largely playthings for hobbyists and videographers. Chinese firm DJI makes the world’s most popular, the Phantom lineup. Its latest iteration, the Phantom 4, uses so-called computer vision to see and avoid obstacles without human intervention. That makes it easier for rookie pilots to fly one, making drones more accessible than ever.

Raspberry Pi Product Shoot

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Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer with a price tag to match its tiny size: about $35, without a monitor, mouse or keyboard. Not meant to replace everyday computers, the Pi is being used in classrooms worldwide to help students learn programming skills. With eight million Pi’s sold as of last year, the odds are decent that the next Mark Zuckerberg will have gotten his or her start tinkering with one.

nest thermostat


Nest Thermostat

Developed by the “godfather of the iPod,” Tony Fadell, the Nest Learning Thermostat was the first smart home device to capture mass market interest following its launch in 2011. Pairing the iconic round shape of classic thermostats with a full-color display and Apple-like software, the Nest features considerable processing power. (For instance, its ability to use machine learning to detect and predict usage patterns for heating and cooling a home.) As interesting as the device itself is, the Nest thermostat really turned heads in 2014 when the company behind it was bought by Google for $3.2 billion ≈ box office sales of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937

≈ net worth of George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, 2011
≈ total US football salaries for all teams, 2011

“>[≈ box office sales of Gone with the Wind, 1939]. The search engine giant turned the device into the center of its smart home strategy with hopes of ushering in an age of interconnected devices that will make everyday living more efficient.

Osborne 1 portable microcomputer, c 1981.

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Osborne 1

When you think of a portable computer, the Osborne 1 is probably not what comes to mind. But this unwieldy 25-pound machine was heralded by technology critics at the time of its 1981 release—BYTE magazine celebrated that it “fit under an airline seat.” The Osborne’s limitations, like a screen about the size of a modern iPhone’s, kept sales low. The machine’s true influence wasn’t on future gadgets, so much as how they are marketed. The company’s executives had an unfortunate knack for prematurely announcing new products, leading would-be customers to hold off for the better version and thus depressing sales. Marketing students now learn to avoid this deleterious “the Osborne effect.”

Fitbit Alta

Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images


Pedometers have been around for centuries (seriously, look it up), but it was Fitbit that helped bring them into the digital age and to the masses. The company’s first device, released in 2009, tracked users’ steps, calories burned and sleep patterns. Most importantly, it allowed users to easily upload all that data to the company’s website for ongoing analysis, encouragement or guilt. Priced at $99, the Fitbit showed that wearables could be affordable. The company sold more than 20 million of the devices in 2015.


Kirk McKoy—LA Times/Getty Images

Roku Netflix Player

An inexpensive upstart running Linux, Roku’s hockey-puck sized Netflix-and-more video streaming box emerged out of nowhere in 2010 to rally waves of cord-cutters who cancelled their cable. What its chunky remote lacked in features, the box more than made up for in software. While at first Apple struggled to rationalize its comparably barren Apple TV-verse, Roku was offering thousands of channels and the most partnerships with the biggest players.


Sony Discman D-50

Following up on the success of the Walkman, Sony unveiled this portable CD player in 1984, just a year after the music industry adopted the format. The device and later portable CD players helped the compact disc usurp cassettes as the dominant music format in the United States in less than a decade.

oculus rift


Oculus Rift

2016’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset could wind up a total flop and we’d still grant Oculus a special place in computing history. And not just because Facebook paid $2 billion ≈ cost of Virginia-class submarine

≈ 2008 presidential contributions

“>[≈ Average total annual tax break to the five biggest oil companies] for the device’s parent company foreseeing a future of social interaction and virtual vacationing provided by VR. Whatever happens next, the Rift, along with ebullient creator Palmer Luckey, will be remembered for reinvigorating the notion of strapping awkward-looking things to our faces in trade for the privilege of visiting persuasively real imaginary places.

apple ibook


Apple iBook

The iBook’s brightly-colored, plastic trim may look dated now, but it was the first laptop to offer wireless networking. Apple’s consumer-oriented portable—for its cool-factor as well as its technology—grew into a serious business. The product’s reveal was a classic example of Steve Jobs’ showmanship at its best. While loading a webpage and showing off the computer’s display at 1999’s MacWorld conference, the Apple co-founder lifted the computer off its table and walked across the stage. The crowd roared in approval. In a gesture, he showed that Wi-Fi was here to stay.

A 1984 Motorola DynaTAC 8000X, the world's first commerciall

Tim Boyle—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Motorola Dynatac 8000x

Motorola’s Dynatac 8000x was the first truly portable cellphone when it launched in 1984. Marty Cooper, an engineer with Motorola at the time, first demonstrated the technology by making what’s regarded as the first public cellular phone call from a New York City sidewalk in 1973. (It was both a PR stunt and an epic humblebrag: Cooper called his biggest rival at AT&T.) The Dynatac 8000x weighed nearly two pounds and cost almost $4,000 ≈ Typical annual cost of car ownership

≈ Per capita income – Mexico, 2006

“>[≈ Per capita income – China, 2004].

PalmPilot palmtop computer, c 1998.

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Palm Pilot

The original Palm Pilot 1000 solidified handheld computing when it launched in 1996, paving the way for BlackBerry and, eventually, today’s smartphone. The “palm top” computer (get it?) came with a monochrome touchscreen that supported handwriting and was capable of syncing data like contacts and calendar entries to users’ computers. It spawned a device category known as the “personal digital assistant,” or PDA. It wasn’t the first such device—the Apple Newton preceded it—but it was the first one people wanted and bought in droves.

hp deskjet

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HP DeskJet

Obsoleting noisy, lousy dot matrix technology, devices like 1988’s HP DeskJet gave computer owners the ability to quietly output graphics and text at a rate of two pages per minute. The DeskJet wasn’t the first inkjet on the market, but with a $995 [≈ Traditional cell phone cost per year] price tag, it was the first one many home PC users bought. Over the 20 years following the product’s launch, HP sold more than 240 million printers in the DeskJet product line, outputting Christmas letters, household budgets, and book reports by the millions. Even in an increasingly paper-less world, the inkjet’s technology lives on in 3-D printers, which are fundamentally the same devices, only extruding molten plastic instead of dye.

Nokia 3210 / Handy

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Nokia 3210

For many, Nokia’s colorful candy bar-shaped 3210 defined the cell phone after it was released in 1999. With more than 160 million sold, it became a bestseller for the Finnish company. The 3210 did more than just introduce the cellphone to new audiences. It also established a few important precedents. The 3210 is regarded to be the first phone with an internal antenna and the first to come with games like Snake preloaded. Gadget reviewers even praised the phone more than 10 years after its launch for its long battery life and clear reception.



Jerrold Cable Box

True story: Cable TV was already a thing in the 1950s. Sure, it took Ted Turner in the 1970s and channels like MTV in the 1980s for what we think of as cable TV’s halcyon days to emerge. But decades earlier, the first commercial cable box that would inspire so many others was an unassuming wood-paneled console manufactured by Pennsylvanian company Jerrold Electronics, sporting three-way sliders for dozens of different channels.

Nintendo Unveils Wii Game device

Robert Gilhooly—Bloomberg


“Thanks to Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata, we’re all gamers now,” went the headline of Wired’s obituary for Nintendo’s beloved president, who died last July. Nothing speaks to Iwata’s legacy more than the company’s game-changing Wii (pun intended). Nintendo’s tiny pearl-white box, released in 2006, and which users engaged with motion control wands, had moms and dads and grandpas and grandmas out of their seats and swinging virtual golf clubs or dancing. No game system has done more to illustrate the omni-generational appeal of interactive entertainment.

sony playstation

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Sony PlayStation

You’d be hard pressed to name a single PlayStation feature that by itself transformed the games industry. It’s been Sony’s obsession with compacting high-end tech into sleek, affordable boxes, then making all that power readily accessible to developers, that’s made the PlayStation family an enduring icon of the living room. Part of Sony’s triumph was simply reading the demographic tea leaves: The company marketed the PlayStation as a game system for grownups to the kids who’d literally grown up playing Atari and Nintendo games. And that helped drive the original system, released in 1994, to meteoric sales, including the PlayStation 2’s Guinness record for bestselling console of all time—a record even Nintendo’s Wii hasn’t come close to breaking.

A Toshiba HD-A30 HD DVD player with 1080p resolution is shown at a news conference at the CES in Las Vegas

Rick Wilking —Reuters

Toshiba DVD Player

Electronics manufacturers were already fiddling with standalone optical storage in the early 1990s, but the first to market was Toshiba’s SD-3000 DVD player in November 1996. Obsoleting noisy, tangle-prone magnetic tape (as well as the binary of “original” versus “copy”) the DVD player made it possible to watch crisp digital movies off a tiny platter just 12 centimeters in diameter—still the de facto size for mainstream optical media (like Blu-ray) today.


TiVo, Inc/AP


“How much would you pay never to see another talking frog or battery-powered bunny again?” this magazine asked when the first TiVo was announced in 1999. The box, called a “Personal Video Recorder” at the time, is the forerunner to today’s DVRs. TiVo owners could record shows picked from a digital menu (no more confusing VCR settings) and pause or rewind live television. Much to TV execs’ consternation, the TiVo let viewers of recorded programming breeze past commercials. That the TiVo made it easier than ever to record a TV show gave rise to “time-shifting,” or the phenomenon of viewers watching content when it fits their schedule.

Amazon Kindle

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Amazon Kindle

Amazon began as an online bookstore, so it’s no surprise that its most influential piece of hardware changed the way we read. The Kindle quickly took over the e-reader market, becoming the best-selling product in the history of in 2010. Follow-up hardware ventures, such as the Kindle Fire Tablet and Echo home assistant, have also found success. The Kindle also marks the beginning of Amazon’s evolution as a digital media company. Today the company has digital stores for music, movies and video games in addition to books.

Polaroid camera

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Polaroid Camera

Millennials get plenty of flak over their penchant for instant gratification. But that’s a desire that crosses generations. Need proof? When the first affordable, easy-to-use instant shooter, the Polaroid OneStep Land camera, hit the market in 1977, it quickly became the country’s best-selling camera, 40 years before “Millennials” were a thing. That Polaroid photographs so dominated 80s-era family albums and pop culture gives the square-framed, often off-color snaps a retro appeal that today is celebrated by enthusiasts and aped by billion-dollar apps like Instagram.

Commodore 64 microcomputer, c 1985.

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Commodore 64

Commodore’s 8-bit brown and taupe lo-fi 1982 masterpiece ranks with record-keeper Guinness as the best-selling single computer in history. No surprise, as the chunky, relatively affordable keyboard-housed system—users plugged the whole thing into a TV with an RF box—did more to popularize the idea of the personal home computer than any device since. And it promised to make you more popular, too: “My friends are knockin’ down my door, to get into my Commodore 64,” sang a Ronnie James Dio clone in a power-metal ad spot.

iPad 2

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Apple iPad

The iPad’s 2010 launch spurred a slew of headlines questioning whether or not the tablet would replace the laptop as the most important personal computer. Apple’s iPad wasn’t the first tablet, but it was radically different from what came before. Earlier devices, like the GriDPad and Palm Pilot, had smaller touchscreens users had to operate with a stylus. Microsoft unveiled a tablet that ran Windows XP in 2002. The problem, however, was that these devices didn’t have interfaces that were well-suited for touch, and they were often clunkier and larger than the iPad. Apple sold 300,000 iPads on its first day in stores, roughly matching the iPhone’s day-one numbers, and has gone on to dominate the market.

blackberry 6210

BlackBerry 6210

BlackBerry made pocket-sized gadgets for accessing email on-the-go before the 6210, but this was the first to combine the Web-browsing and email experience with the functionality of a phone. The 6210 let users check email, make phone calls, send text messages, manage their calendar, and more all from a single device. (Its predecessor, the 5810, required users to attach a headset in order to make calls.) All told, the 6210 was a pivotal step forward for mobile devices.


Phonemate 400 Answering Machine

The idea of an answering machine weighing more than a few ounces may sound ludicrous by today’s standards. But in 1971, PhoneMate’s 10-pound Model 400 was viewed as a glimpse of the future. The Model 400 was considered the first answering machine designed for the home during a time when the technology was only commonly found in workplaces. It held roughly 20 messages and enabled owners to listen to voicemails privately through an earphone.

TomTom navigation device in Amsterdam

Robin van Lonkhuysen—United Photo/Reuters

TomTom GPS

Like the early Internet, GPS started life as a government-funded innovation. It wasn’t until President Bill Clinton decided in 2000 to fully open the network that it became a massive commerical success. (He was filling a promise made by Ronald Reagan.) Shortly afterwards, companies from TomTom to Garmin introduced personal GPS devices for automotive navigation (like the Start 45) and other uses. Later, combining GPS technology with smartphones’ mobile broadband connections gave rise to multibillion dollar location-based services like Uber.

ibm thinkpad advertisement


IBM Thinkpad 700C

Few products are so iconic that their design remains largely unchanged after more than 20 years. Such is the case with the ThinkPad line of laptops, which challenged the dominance of Apple and Compaq in the personal computing industry during the early 1990s by introducing features that were considered to be innovative at the time. (It’s also part of the permanent collection at New York City’s MoMA.) One of the earliest in the line, the ThinkPad 700C, came with a 10.4-inch color touch screen, larger than displays offered by other competing products. Its TrackPoint navigation device and powerful microprocessors were also considered to be groundbreaking in the early 1990s.

Motorola Droid

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Motorola Droid

Other Android-powered smartphones existed before the Droid launched in 2009, but this was the first one popular enough to push Android into the spotlight. It cemented Google’s Android platform as the iPhone’s biggest competition. (And sowed a rift between Apple and Google, which had previously been close allies.) Verizon is said to have poured $100 million[≈ Large city office building] into marketing the device. It seemingly paid off—although neither companies disclosed sales figures, analysts estimated that between 700,000 and 800,000 Droids were sold in roughly one month following its launch.

JVC camcorder gr-c1


JVC VideoMovie Camcorder

From Rodney King and citizen journalism to America’s Funniest Home Videos and unscripted television, the camcorder did as much to change the world from 1983 to 2006 as it did to record it. And though the 1984 JVC VideoMovie wasn’t the first model on the market, it became iconic when Marty McFly lugged it around in 1985’s Back to the Future. The ruby red model was the first to integrate the tapedeck into the camera. (Previously, home videographers had to wear a purse-like peripheral that housed the cassette.) Eventually, camcorders were displaced by flash memory-packing Flip Video cameras and, later, smartphones. But their impact will live forever, like the movies they captured.

motorola bravo pager


Motorola Bravo Pager

Long before cellphones became commonplace, beepers were the way to stay in touch on the go. Early pagers allowed users to send codes to one another, like 411 for “what’s going on” or 911 to indicate an emergency (for obvious reasons). Message recipients would respond by calling the sender via telephone. The Bravo Flex, introduced in 1986, became the best-selling pager in the world, according to Motorola, giving many people their first taste of mobile communication. It could store up to five messages that were 24 characters in length. By the early 1990s, having a pager became a status symbol, paving the way for more advanced communication devices like the two-way pager, the cellphone, and eventually the smartphone.

Ibm Selectric Ii Typewriter

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IBM Selectric Typewriter

Turning the plodding, jam-prone mechanical typewriter into a rapid-fire bolt of workplace ingenuity, this Mad Men-era machine worked at the “speed of thought” and marked the beginning of the computer age. The 1961 Selectric model began by introducing changeable typefaces through the typewriter’s iconic, interchangeable, golf-ball-shaped print head. Then in 1964, a magnetic tape model gave the typewriter the ability to store data, arguably making it the world’s first word processor. So in 1965, when the IBM System/360 mainframe rolled out, it only made sense that the Selectric’s keyboard served as the computer’s primary input device.

Nintendo Game Boy, 1989.

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Nintendo Game Boy

It’s a wonder we didn’t destroy our eyes gaming on the Game Boy’s tiny 2.6-inch olive green screen, considering how many Nintendo sold (over 200 million when you include the souped-up subsequent Game Boy Advance.) A chunky, somewhat dismal looking off-white object with garish cerise-colored buttons, Nintendo’s 1989 handheld invented the modern mobile game. Its modest power and anemic screen forced developers to distill the essence of genres carried over from consoles. The result: A paradigm shift in mobile game design that’s influenced everything from competing devoted handhelds to Apple’s iPhone.

nintendo NES

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Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo’s debut front-loading, rain-gray console showed up just in time to save the games industry from its excesses, arriving a few years after a crash that capsized many of the field’s biggest players. The NES was to video gaming what The Beatles were to rock and roll, singlehandedly resuscitating the market after it launched in 1983. The NES heralded Japan’s dominance of the industry, establishing indelible interface and game design ideas so archetypal you can find their DNA in every home console hence.

56k modem

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US Robotics Sportster 56K Modem

Beep boop bop beep. Eeeeeeerrrrrrroooooooahhhh ba dong ba dong ba dong psssssssssssh. In the days before broadband, that was the sound the Internet made. Dial-up modems, like the US Robotics Sportster, were many families’ first gateway to the Web. Their use peaked around 2001, as faster alternatives that carried data over cable lines arrived. But millions of households still have an active dial-up connection. Why? They’re cheaper and accessible to the millions of Americans who still lack broadband access.

Atari computer console and games, c 1977.

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Atari 2600

Its blocky 8-bit graphics looked nothing like the lavish, rousing illustrations on its game jackets, but the black-and-faux-wood Atari 2600 game console was the first gaming box to stir the imaginations of millions. It brought the arcade experience home for $199 [≈ Low-end bicycle] (about $800 adjusted for inflation), including a pair of iconic digital joysticks and games with computer-controlled opponents–a home console first. It sold poorly in the months after its launch in September 1977, but when games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man arrived a few years later, sales shot into the millions, positioning Atari at the vanguard of the incipient video gaming revolution.


Andrew Safonov—iStockphoto/Getty Images

Philips N1500 VCR

Though it took a long, winding road to mass market success, the videocassette recorder, or VCR, got its start in 1972 with Philips’ release of the N1500. Predating the BetaMax versus VHS format war, the N1500 recorded television onto square cassettes, unlike the VCRs that would achieve mass market success in the 1980s. But featuring a tuner and timer, Philips device was the first to let television junkies record and save their favorite programs for later. But that kind of convenience didn’t come cheap. Originally selling in the U.K. for around £440, it would cost more than $6,500 ≈ Typical week-long trip for two to Hawaii

“>[≈ Typical household annual food spending, 2009] today. That’s the equivalent of 185 Google Chromecasts.



Canon Pocketronic Calculator

All business? Hardly. If you trace the path of technology far enough, iconic adding machines like this 1970 classic blazed the trail for the smartphones we’re packing today. Selling for $345 at its launch (a cool $2,165 today), this calculator was built around three circuits that let it add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Thirteen rechargeable battery cells were crammed into the casing to power the calculations, with results spat out onto thermal paper. After the Pocketronic’s launch, circuitry quickly miniaturized and prices shrank to match. Within five years, comparable devices cost just $20, and the first shots were fired in tech’s pricing wars.

hitachi magic wand

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Magic Wand

A few years after a 2002 episode of Sex and the City revealed the electric neck massager’s cultish adoption as a vibrator, Hitachi dropped its brand from the device. But only in name: the Magic Wand—in service since the late-1960s—likely remains the best-known product stateside made by the $33.5 billion ≈ Harvard University endowment in 2011

≈ China’s 2009 investment in renewable energy

“>[≈ cost of 1993 Midwest flooding] Japanese company. (Hitachi makes everything from aircraft engines to defense equipment, but perhaps nothing as personally stimulating.) Though sex therapists and fans have extolled the Wand’s virtues by analogizing it to cars (the Cadillac, the Rolls Royce), it more closely resembles a microphone, with a white plastic shaft—the wand—and a vibrating head—presumably, the magic.

apple ipod

Apple Corp/Getty Images

Apple iPod

There were MP3 players before the iPod, sure, but it was Apple’s blockbuster device that convinced music fans to upgrade from their CD players en masse. The iPod simultaneously made piracy more appealing, by letting people carry their thousand-song libraries in their pockets, while also providing a lifeline to the flailing music industry with the iTunes Store, which eventually became the world’s biggest music retailer. The iPod’s importance extends far beyond music. It was an entire generation’s introduction to Apple’s easy-to-use products and slick marketing. These people would go on to buy MacBooks, iPhones and iPads in droves, helping to make Apple the most valuable technology company in the world.

No 2 Portrait Brownie cameras in �fashion� colours, 1929-1935.

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Kodak Brownie Camera

Marketed toward children, carried by soldiers, and affordable to everyone, this small, brown leatherette and cardboard camera introduced the term “snapshot” through its ease of use and low cost. Priced at just $1 (with film that was similarly inexpensive) when it was introduced in February 1900, the Brownie took cameras off tripods and put them into everyday use. For Kodak, the low-cost shooter was the hook that allowed the company to reel in money through film sales. And for the rest of the world, it helped captured countless moments and shape civilization’s relationship to images.


Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio

The Regency’s pocket radio was the first consumer gadget powered by transistors, ushering in an age of high-tech miniaturization. A post-WWII innovation developed by Texas Instruments (which had been making devices for the Navy) and Industrial Development Engineering Associates (which previously put out television antennas for Sears), the $49.95, 3-by-5-inch, battery-powered portable was built on technology developed by Bell Labs. From the transistors that amplified the radio signal to the use of printed circuit boards that connected the components to the eye-catching design, many factors conspired to make the TR-1 a holiday must-buy after its November 1954 launch. And as revolutionary as all this tech was, it only scratches the surface of how the Regency — by ushering in truly portable communications — changed the world overnight.


Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Victrola Record Player

Though the phonograph was invented in 1877, it was the Victor Talking Machine Company’s Victrola that first made audio players a staple in most people’s homes. The device’s amplifying horn was hidden inside a wooden cabinet, giving it the sleek look of a sophisticated piece of furniture. Records by classical musicians and opera singers were popular purchases for the device. Eventually, the Victor Talking Machine Company would be bought by RCA, which would go on to become a radio and television giant.

IBM PC Model 5150 with printer, 1981.

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IBM Model 5150

What would the computer market look like today without the IBM PC? Sure, the world had personal computers before the 5150 was introduced in 1981. But IBM’s sales pitch—bringing Big Blue’s corporate computing prowess into the home—helped make this a wildly successful product. Even more influential than the 5150 itself was Big Blue’s decision to license its PC operating system, DOS, to other manufacturers. That led to the birth of “IBM Compatibles,” the forerunner to almost all non-Apple PCs out there today.

Sony Walkman, c 1980.

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Sony Walkman

Sony’s Walkman was the first music player to combine portability, simplicity and affordability. While vinyl records were still the most popular music format, the Walkman—originally the “Sound-About” in the United States—played much smaller cassettes and was small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. It ushered in the phenomena of private space in public created by the isolating effect of headphones. It ran on AA batteries, allowing it to travel far from power outlets. Sony eventually sold more than 200 million of the devices, which paved the way for the CD player and the iPod.

Apple Macintosh computer, model M001, c 1984.

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Apple Macintosh

“Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?” That’s how Steve Jobs introduced the ad heralding the arrival of the Macintosh. With its graphical user interface, easy-to-use mouse and overall friendly appearance, the Macintosh was Apple’s best hope to take on IBM. High costs and Microsoft’s successful Windows software conspired to keep the Mac a perennial runner-up. But it forever set the standard for the way human beings interact with computers.

Sony colour television, 1970.

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Sony Trinitron

Renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow famously described television as “nothing but wires and lights in a box.” Of all such boxes, Sony’s Trinitron—launched in 1968 as color TV sales were finally taking off—stands at the fore of memorable sets, in part for its novel way of merging what to that point had been three separate electron guns. The Trinitron was the first TV receiver to win a vaunted Emmy award, and over the next quarter century, went on to sell over 100 million units worldwide.

Iomega SuperHero, dock for Apple iPhone and iPod touch, session for Tap Magazine taken on February 8, 2011. (Photo by S

Simon Lees—Tap Magazine/Getty Images

Apple iPhone

Apple was the first company to put a truly powerful computer in the pockets of millions when it launched the iPhone in 2007. Smartphones had technically existed for years, but none came together as accessibly and beautifully as the iPhone. Apple’s device ushered in a new era of flat, touchscreen phones with buttons that appeared on screen as you needed them, replacing the chunkier phones with slide-out keyboards and static buttons. What really made the iPhone so remarkable, however, was its software and mobile app store, introduced later. The iPhone popularized the mobile app, forever changing how we communicate, play games, shop, work, and complete many everyday tasks.

The iPhone is a family of very successful products. But, more than that, it fundamentally changed our relationship to computing and information—a change likely to have repercussions for decades to come.

Google Allo vs. Apple iMessage vs. Facebook Messenger: How They Compare | TIME

Which is the best messaging app?

Source: Google Allo vs. Apple iMessage vs. Facebook Messenger: How They Compare | TIME

The messaging apps you likely use each day, like Apple’s iMessage and Facebook Messenger, have changed dramatically over the past few months.

These apps, primarily designed for simple conversation, are gradually evolving into platforms for more complex messaging and outside services. The shift can be compared to the move from mobile webpages to apps that took place once smartphones like the iPhone rose in popularity nearly a decade ago.

Google’s new messaging app Allo, for example, integrates the company’s search prowess directly into text conversations. Apple recently launched an entire store just for apps meant to be used within its messaging app, iMessage. And Facebook earlier this year invited companies to design their own chat bots for its Messenger app, which help you shop or book travel plans.

Apple, Google, and Facebook’s messaging apps serve similar purposes, but in different ways. Here’s a closer look at how they differ.

Google Allo

Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco

Allo’s biggest asset is its integration with Google Assistant, the company’s conversational new virtual aid that can answer questions and make suggestions.

Allo offers two ways to interact with Google Assistant. In a messaging thread, typing the trigger phrase “@google” will tell the assistant to pay attention to the next string of text you type so that it can answer your query. When making plans with a friend, you might type something like, “@google Show me movie times near me?” to display upcoming showings. You can also chat with Google Assistant one-on-one to ask it questions, set alarms, tell jokes, find news, and remember information like hotel room numbers, among other things.

At this point, Google Assistant adds some convenience to texting by making it easier to retrieve information without having to juggle multiple apps. But for now, it’s only helpful for basic tasks. For finding more complicated answers — like public transportation schedules — you’re still better off using a dedicated search app or web browser.

A crucial difference between Allo and the messaging apps offered by Apple and Facebook is that it doesn’t yet offer third-party apps, although Google is considering doing so in the future. With Allo, you can hunt for nearby restaurants and browse movie times without leaving a text conversation, but you can’t book a table or buy tickets for now.

While many texting apps and keyboards can suggest words as you type, Allo goes a step farther by offering up full replies based on the message you’ve just received. If a sibling sends you a photo of the family dog, Allo might suggest that you say something like “Aww!” or “How cute!” in response. This artificial intelligence-powered feature is part of what makes Allo different than iMessage or Facebook Messenger. These suggestions are on point and natural-sounding for the most part, but I found that in most instances I preferred to type out my own responses unless I was in a rush.

Stickers and expression are also an important part of the Allo experience. There are currently around 25 sticker packs available to download in Allo, which is an especially slim selection compared to the 6,000 sticker collections Facebook Messenger offers. Apple hasn’t said how many stickers are currently available for iMessage, but there are dozens upon dozens in the App Store already. These range from recognizable brand-name characters like Mickey Mouse and Mario to cute animals. The stickers in Allo, comparatively, are made by independent artists and studios.

Allo also has an Incognito Mode, which, as the name implies, is meant to offer more privacy for sensitive conversations. With Incognito Mode enabled, all chats are encrypted end-to-end. You can also choose to make your messages disappear after a certain amount of time has passed. This is similar to the Secret Conversations feature available in Facebook Messenger’s mobile app.

However, many reviewers have criticized Google for not activating this functionality by default, as Apple does with iMessage. Google also stores your Allo conversation history, even though it said it wouldn’t look at your messages when it initially unveiled the app, as The Verge noted. (Google says it does this in order to improve its service, but the company’s advertising-based business model is built around knowing as much about its users as possible.)

Unlike Messenger and iMessage, Allo is only available on mobile, for both iOS and Android. This means you can’t continue your chats on your computer while at work or get notifications on your desktop or laptop like you can with Apple and Facebook’s respective apps.

Apple iMessage

Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco

When Apple unveiled the new Apple TV last year, the company did so with the tagline “The future of TV is apps.” Now it seems the company is taking the same approach to messaging.

The new version of iMessage, which recently launched with iOS 10, includes an App Store filled with apps just for Apple’s messaging app. You could, for example, download The Weather Channel’s app for iMessage to look up the forecast and share it with a friend without switching between apps. Or you might have a few friends vote on which restaurant the group should choose for dinner that night through OpenTable.

Apple’s approach to messaging differs from those of Google and Facebook in that it doesn’t focus on the “conversational interface.” This idea has been front and center in both Facebook and Google’s respective apps. Part of the appeal behind Allo, for example, is that you can ask Google to answer questions or retrieve information for you in the same way you would type a message to a friend. Similarly, thousands of businesses have launched chatbots for Facebook Messenger with the goal of making it easier to use their services through casual communication. But using apps in iMessage largely feels the same as interacting with other apps on your phone, rather than chatting with a virtual assistant or automated bot. You can choose to open an app within the text field of your message or expand it to run in full screen mode.

iMessage has changed in other ways, too. In addition to the new stickers, Apple has added visual effects that Facebook and Google’s apps lack. Some examples include: The ability to send handwritten notes by holding the phone in landscape mode, tapping a word or phrase to replace it with an emoji, and sending a virtual heartbeat to recipient.

Another feature unique to iMessage is the ability to send full screen animations with a text, like a barrage of fireworks in the backdrop of a message that says “Congratulations.” iMessage also allows users to send blurred text or photos that unscramble when the recipient swipes over the message. With the new iMessage, it’s possible to make text bubbles larger or smaller, (Allo offers a similar effect), and tap on a specific in a message within a thread to ‘react’ to it, like you would a Facebook status. Plus, iMessage users can now search for animated GIFs and images with the iPhone’s keyboard by default.

Apple’s service is only available on Apple products, including iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and iPod Touch devices.

Facebook Messenger

Lisa Eadicicco
Lisa Eadicicco

Facebook began integrating third-party services into its chat app before Apple and Google, first introducing Messenger as a Platform in 2015. Facebook took this a step further in April, inviting app makers to create chatbots for its messaging app. There are currently more than 30,000 bots on Facebook Messenger, allowing users to shop, get weather forecasts, and read the news within the app.

When done well, using bots in Messenger almost feels like having personal assistants for specific tasks. The Whole Foods bot, for example, serves up recipe ideas. Shopping app Spring’s bot, meanwhile, will ask you what you’re shopping for and pull up relevant items. The experience is different with each bot. Some will proactively ask you what need help with, while others field questions or send news updates. What each bot does is largely in the hands of their developers rather than Facebook, which is why some bots are more responsive and engaging than others. By contrast, the Google Assistant experience is consistent since Google is in full control.

In addition to chatbots, Facebook also lets third-party apps plug into Messenger. These are different than chatbots in that they’re not conversational, instead working more like iMessage apps. You can, for instance, request an Uber or Lyft when chatting with a friend or send money through Facebook’s payment service without leaving your conversation. Some of these options appear in your in the tool bar above the text field in Messenger, while a larger selection is accessible in the More section. Many of the app integrations currently available for Messenger include different types of keyboards, games, quizzes, and photo apps.

Other than its massive sticker library and selection of third party keyboards, Facebook doesn’t offer many different tools for expression. You can’t, for example, add full-screen animations to a message or tap a word to replace it with an emoji the way you can with iMessage. It did, however, recently gain the ability to start a live video in a conversation and embed polls in group chats.

Facebook Messenger is available for iOS and Android and can also be used on the desktop.


Ultimately, most people will probably opt for the messaging platform that’s most convenient for them. Most often, that’s the app that most of their friends and family members are currently using. This is where Apple and Facebook have a major advantage over Allo. iMessage is baked into every iPhone by default, while Facebook’s Messenger app is among the largest messaging services in the world, boasting 1 billion users. With Allo, Google will have to convince users to download a new app they likely haven’t heard of.

Still, there are reasons to like (or dislike) each app. The ability to search for GIFs and stickers alone is a major step forward for iMessage, which has lagged behind apps like Facebook Messenger in this respect until now. The overall app experience in iMessage, from discovering new apps to actually using them, feels very much like installing regular apps on your iPhone, which Apple fans will likely appreciate.

Messenger, on the other hand, appears to be focused on building the conversational user interface by pushing developers to create chatbots for its platform. It’s still early days for these bots, and the vast majority of them still have yet to prove their worth. Regardless, it’s clear Facebook is focused on messaging, as the app has seen several significant changes over the past year alone. For now, the app’s ease of use and vast selection of stickers remain its biggest strengths.

Allo has potential, but for now it feels more like a testbed for Google Assistant more than anything else. The idea of having a virtual assistant present in chats to help you make plans with friends is helpful and appealing, but it does present some privacy concerns. For now, the lack of third party app integration and desktop compatibility puts Allo behind Messenger and iMessage, although it will be interesting to see how Google Assistant improves over time.

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