Big Five (technology companies)
The Big Five or the Big Tech is the name used to describe five multinational technology companies based in the United States which by the end the 2010s have become the top five companies in the world in terms of market capitalization. These are Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (the holding company for Google), Microsoft and Facebook. At different points in recent times, the maximum market capitalization of these companies has ranged from half a trillion to one trillion US dollars. As such, they have replaced the energy giants such as Exxon Mobil, BP, Gazprom, PetroChina and Royal Dutch Shell (the so-called "Big Oil") from the first decade of the 21st century at the top of the NASDAQ stock index. They have also outpaced the traditional big media companies such as Disney, AT&T, Comcast and 21st Century Fox (the so-called "Big Media") by a factor of 10. In 2017, the Big Five tech companies had a combined valuation of over $3.3 trillion, and made up more than 40 percent of the value of the Nasdaq 100 index.
Among the Big Five, Google has monopolized the web-based functions of online search (Google search), online video sharing (YouTube) and online mapping-based navigation (Google Maps). Facebook and Google share a digital advertising duopoly. In addition to social networking, Facebook also dominates the functions of online image sharing (Instagram) and online messaging (Whatsapp). Amazon is a leader in e-commerce. Amazon, Google and Microsoft are leaders in providing cloud services. Apple sells high-margin smartphones and other computing devices. Google and Amazon are also leading the charge in the area of Artificial Intelligence-based personal digital assistants or smart speakers (Amazon Echo and Google Home).
It has been speculated if it is possible to live day to day in the digital world outside of the ecosystem created by the Big Five. Some have also raised the issue of regulating their influence in the areas of privacy, market power, free speech and censorship (including inappropriate content), and national security and law enforcement. On the other hand, by providing cheap or even free services to consumers, they remain popular.
Aerial view of Apple Park, the corporate headquarters of Apple Inc., Cupertino, California
Facebook headquarters, Menlo Park, California
Microsoft headquarters (western side), Redmond, Washington
- The 'Big Five' Could Destroy the Tech Ecosystem
- The push to break up Big Tech, explained
- Jason Paul Whittaker (Feb 11, 2019), "Introduction", Tech Giants, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Journalism (Open Access), Routledge
- How 5 Tech Giants Have Become More Like Governments Than Companies
- It’s almost impossible to function without the big five tech giants
- Privacy, power and censorship: how to regulate big tech