For the love of it


A couple of weeks ago my daughter bought me a present. Actually it was a combined birthday and Father’s Day gift. It was a Google Home Mini. 

She knew that I hadn’t got one and so she kept the receipt just in case it was not up my street. But I’ve kept it and it’s duly ensconced in my bookshelves in the lounge and so now I can say hey Google what’s Newcastle United’s first home fixture? And it says ‘sorry but I’m not programmed to answer that yet’ or something along those lines. 

That’s a little unfair as it can tell me the weather and all sorts of useful stuff but I think it struggles with my Geordie accent. This is the arrangement you make with it, you speak to it and it listens and learns to understand you .

It’s Arsenal at home by the way on 11 August at 14:00. It’s on the TV so that’s three points lost.

My wife doesn’t trust the Home Mini though. She thinks that they are listening to you all the time, waiting for snippets of useful information. There are stories of similar devices switching on unexpectedly, sending messages to your contacts, ordering stuff that you didn’t want, taking instructions from the telly and laughing randomly. She has every right to distrust them. 

When I asked OK Google, which are the biggest companies in the world this is what it told me:

  • Walmart (1) $500 million, biggest company in the world, bigger than 8 countries including Tonga and Dominica, with 2.2 million associates and an average pay of $13.38 an hour. They own ASDA in the UK.
  • State Grid (2) China electricity – power
  • Sinopec (3) China Oil
  • China National Petroleum (4) Oil
  • Royal Dutch Shell (5) Oil
  • Toyota (6) Automotive, users of oil

Clearly oil is still the new oil. The two biggest tech companies are Apple (11) $229 million and Samsung (12) $211 million.

Yet when I asked which are the biggest companies by market capitalisation we get a very different picture.

  • Apple (1)
  • Alphabet (2) Google
  • Microsoft (3)
  • Amazon (4)
  • Facebook (8)

The smart money, if there is such a thing, is all in tech. I am reminded of the saying that ‘If the product is free, you are the product.’

Google, Amazon and Facebook are data companies. Microsoft and Apple less so yet data plays a large role in their business. They make their money by giving you free products and using the data they collect to sell to advertising. The more data they collect, the more they know about you and the greater the value they can drive from you. 

They are not in this for the love of it and neither are their investors.

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