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科技行业五大巨头 生生不息繁荣昌盛

科技行业五大巨头 生生不息繁荣昌盛

本文摘要:There’s a little parlor game that people in Silicon Valley like to play. Let’s call it, Who’s Losing?硅谷的人讨厌玩游戏一个小小的室内游戏。


There’s a little parlor game that people in Silicon Valley like to play. Let’s call it, Who’s Losing?硅谷的人讨厌玩游戏一个小小的室内游戏。咱们就叫它“谁在走下坡路”吧!There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, now a unit of a parent company called Alphabet. And there’s one more, Microsoft, whose influence once looked on the wane, but which is now rebounding.在目前的消费科技行业,亚马逊(Amazon)、苹果(Apple)、Facebook和谷歌(Google)是无可争辩的统治者。


So which of these five is losing? A year ago, it was Google that looked to be in a tough spot as its ad business appeared more vulnerable to Facebook’s rise. Now, Google is looking up, and it’s Apple, hit by rising worries about a slowdown in iPhone sales, that may be headed for some pain. Over the next couple of weeks, as these companies issue earnings that show how they finished 2015, the state of play may shift once more.那么,这五家公司中谁在走下坡路呢?一年前,当谷歌的广告业务或许更容易受到Facebook兴起的影响时,该公司或许处境艰苦。但现在,谷歌的情况正在恶化,因为iPhone销量上升而引起日益反感忧虑的苹果,却可能会经历一些伤痛。

接下来的几周里,随着这些公司发布能突显自己2015年战绩的收益,局面有可能又不会产生变化。But don’t expect it to shift much. Asking “who’s losing?” misses a larger truth about how thoroughly Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft now lord over all that happens in tech.但不要确信不会都有的变化。问“谁在走下坡路”忽视了一个更加普遍的事实。

这个事实牵涉到当前亚马逊、苹果、Facebook、谷歌和微软公司对科技领域方方面面的全面掌控。Who’s really losing? In the larger picture, none of them — not in comparison with the rest of the tech industry, the rest of the economy and certainly not in the influence each of them holds over our lives.谁知道在走下坡路呢?纵观全局,它们谁都没。和科技行业的其他企业及其他经济领域比起,它们没走下坡路,就它们各自对我们生活的影响而言,答案也毫无疑问是驳斥的。Tech people like to picture their industry as a roiling sea of disruption, in which every winner is vulnerable to surprise attack from some novel, as-yet-unimagined foe. “Someone, somewhere in a garage is gunning for us,” Eric Schmidt, Alphabet’s executive chairman, is fond of saying.科技圈的人讨厌把自己所在的行业说成是一片波涛汹涌的海洋,时刻面对颠覆性的变化。

在这片海洋中,每一个赢家都更容易遭到尚且不为人知的新输掉出其不意的反击。Alphabet公司继续执行董事长埃里克·施密特(Eric Schmidt)讨厌说道,“在某个车库里,某个人正在趁机反击我们。”But for much of the last half-decade, most of these five giants have enjoyed a remarkable reprieve from the boogeymen in the garage. And you can bet on them continuing to win. So I’m coining them the Frightful Five.但在过去五年中的非常一部分时间里,五大巨头中大部分都没有遇上从车库里回头出来的强大输掉。

而且可以认同他们不会之后获得胜利。因此,我给它们起名叫“五恶人”(Frightful Five)。It’s not just because I’m a Tarantino fan. By just about every measure worth collecting, these five American consumer technology companies are getting larger, more entrenched in their own sectors, more powerful in new sectors and better insulated against surprising competition from upstarts.这不仅因为我是塔伦蒂诺(Tarantino)的粉丝。从能搜集到的完全每一项标准来看,美国这五家消费科技公司的规模都在不断扩大、在各自所在领域的地位都更为巩固、抵挡初创公司出其不意地发动的竞争的能力也更加强劲。

Though competition between the five remains fierce — and each year, a few of them seem up and a few down — it’s becoming harder to picture how any one of them, let alone two or three, may cede their growing clout in every aspect of American business and society.尽管五家公司之间的竞争仍然极为白热化——且每年各自的实力都有消长变化——但想象它们中的一家失去对美国企业和社会方方面面日益减少的影响力显得更加艰难,更加别说是其中两家或三家了。“The Big Five came along at a perfect time to roll up the user base,” said Geoffrey G. Parker, a business professor at Tulane University and the co-author of “Platform Revolution,” a forthcoming book that explains some of the reasons these businesses may continue their dominance. “These five rode that perfect wave of technological change — an incredible decrease in the cost of I.T., much more network connectivity and the rise of mobile phones. Those three things came together, and there they were, perfectly poised to grow and take advantage of the change.”“五巨头一路走过正好跟上了累积用户基础的最差时机,”杜兰大学(Tulane University)商学教授杰弗里·G·帕克(Geoffrey G. Parker)说道。

“这五家公司搭乘了最差的那股科技变革浪潮:信息技术成本明显上升、网络连通性全面提高、移动电话兴起。这三个方面汇入到一起,而它们生逢其时,正处于大大茁壮和从变革中利润的极致方位。”帕克与人年出版的《平台革命》(Platform Revolution)将要面世,该书所列了一些原因,说明这些企业的统治者地位为何可能会继续下去。

Mr. Parker notes the Big Five’s power does not necessarily prevent newer tech companies from becoming huge. Uber might upend the transportation industry, Airbnb could rule hospitality, and as I argued last week, Netflix is bent on consuming the entertainment business. But if such new giants do come along, they’re likely to stand alongside today’s Big Five, not replace them.帕克认为,五巨头的力量不一定会阻碍改版的科技公司发展壮大一起。Uber可能会颠覆性运输行业,Airbnb可能会支配住宿宴请行业,且正如我上周所说,Netflix一心想政治宣传娱乐业。但如果真为经常出现这类新的巨头,它们可能会车站在当今的五巨头旁边,而不是代替它们。Indeed, the Frightful Five are so well-protected against start-ups that in most scenarios, the rise of new companies only solidifies their lead.的确,面临初创公司,“五恶人”被维护得十分好,以至在大部分情况下,新的公司的兴起只不会稳固它们的领导地位。

Consider that Netflix hosts its movies on Amazon’s cloud, and Google’s venture capital arm has a huge investment in Uber. Or consider all the in-app payments that Apple and Google get from their app stores, and all the marketing dollars that Google and Facebook reap from start-ups looking to get you to download their stuff.考虑一下,Netflix把其电影存放在了亚马逊的云上,而谷歌的风险投资部门则在Uber投放了巨资。或者看看苹果和谷歌从各自的应用于商店里提供的应用于内收费,以及谷歌和Facebook从很多期望用户iTunes自己的内容的初创公司那里缴纳的营销费用。This gets to the core of the Frightful Five’s indomitability. They have each built several enormous technologies that are central to just about everything we do with computers. In tech jargon, they own many of the world’s most valuable “platforms” — the basic building blocks on which every other business, even would-be competitors, depend.这就说道到了“五恶人”地位不能动摇的核心。



这些平台是其他所有企业,乃至未来的竞争对手所依靠的基础。These platforms are inescapable; you may opt out of one or two of them, but together, they form a gilded mesh blanketing the entire economy.这些平台是避不开的。人们可能会自由选择不用于其中的一两个,但它们通一起包含了一张如同金子般熠熠生辉的网,涵括了整个经济。The Big Five’s platforms span so-called old tech — Windows is still the king of desktops, Google rules web search — and new tech, with Google and Apple controlling mobile phone operating systems and the apps that run on them; Facebook and Google controlling the Internet advertising business; and Amazon, Microsoft and Google controlling the cloud infrastructure on which many start-ups run.五巨头的平台涵括了所谓的老科技——Windows在台式机领域的地位仍然至高无上,谷歌统治者着网络搜寻——和新的科技领域,谷歌和苹果掌控着移动电话操作系统和配备在它们上面的应用于;Facebook和谷歌掌控着互联网广告业务;亚马逊、微软公司和谷歌掌控着云基础设施。

而很多创业公司都是在云基础设施上运营的。Amazon has a shopping and shipping infrastructure that is becoming central to retailing, while Facebook keeps amassing greater power in that most fundamental of platforms: human social relationships.亚马逊享有一个购物和货运基础设施体系,它正在沦为里至关重要的部分。而Facebook仍然在积存人际社交领域的强劲力量。

人际社交是所有平台中最重要的。Many of these platforms generate what economists call “network effects” — as more people use them, they keep getting more indispensable. Why do you chat using Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook? Because that’s where everyone else is.这些平台中,很多都产生了经济学家所说的“网络效应”。随着用户减少,它们显得更为不可或缺。为什么能用Facebook Messenger或某种程度隶属于Facebook的WhatsApp聊天呢?因为其他人都在用。


Their platforms also give each of the five an enormous advantage when pursuing new markets. Look how Apple’s late-to-market subscription streaming music service managed to attract 10 million subscribers in its first six months of operation, or how Facebook leveraged the popularity of its main app to push users to download its stand-alone Messenger app.五巨头的平台也让它们各自在拓展新的市场时享有极大的优势。想到苹果最近推向市场的采购流音乐服务是如何设法在运营的前六个月里更有到了1000万订户,或Facebook是如何利用自己的主要应用于甚广热门这一点,推展用户iTunes其独立国家应用于Messenger的吧。Then there’s the data buried in the platforms, also a rich source for new business. This can happen directly — for instance, Google can tap everything it learns about how we use our phones to create an artificial intelligence engine that improves our phones — and in more circuitous ways. By watching what’s popular in its app store, Apple can get insight into what features to add to the iPhone.还有蕴含于这些平台之中的数据。


“In a way, a lot of the research and development costs are being borne by companies out of their four walls, which allows them to do better product development,” Mr. Parker said.“在或许上,很多研发成本是由这五个公司之外的其他公司分担的,这让它们需要更佳地展开产品研发,”帕克说道。This explains why these companies’ visions are so expansive. In various small and large ways, the Frightful Five are pushing into the news and entertainment industries; they’re making waves in health care and finance; they’re building cars, drones, robots and immersive virtual-reality worlds. Why do all this? Because their platforms — the users, the data, and all the money they generate — make these far-flung realms seem within their grasp.这就说明了这些公司的愿景为何如此辽阔。“五恶人”正在通过大大小小的各种方式进占新闻和娱乐行业;摇动医疗保健和金融领域;修建汽车、无人机、机器人和沉浸式白鱼真为世界。

为什么要这么做到?因为它们的平台——用户、数据和它们带给的收益——让这些距离很远的领域看起来看起来近在咫尺。Which isn’t to say these companies can’t die. Not long ago people thought IBM, Cisco Systems, Intel and Oracle were unbeatable in tech; they’re all still large companies, but they’re far less influential than they once were.但并不是说道这些公司会覆灭。不久前,人们以为国际商业机器公司(IBM)、思科系统(Cisco Systems)、英特尔(Intel)和甲骨文(Oracle)在科技领域是不能击败的。

现在,虽然它们仍然是大公司,但其影响力近不及从前。And a skeptic might come up with significant threats to the five giants. One possibility might be growing competition from abroad, especially Chinese hardware and software companies that are amassing equally important platforms. Then there’s the threat of regulation or other forms of government intervention. European regulators are already pursuing several of the Frightful Five on antitrust and privacy grounds.所持猜测态度的人可能会指出五巨头面对着根本性威胁。其中一个也许是来自海外的竞争日益白热化,尤其是正在累积同等最重要的平台的中国硬件和软件公司。

然后还有监管威胁和其他形式的政府介入。欧洲监管机构早已在以反垄断和隐私为由查出“五恶人”中的多家公司了。Even with these difficulties, it’s unclear if the larger dynamic may change much. Let’s say that Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company, eclipses Amazon’s retail business in India — well, O.K., so then it satisfies itself with the rest of the world.即便不存在这些艰难,我们还是不确切整体格局否有可能大逆。

比如说中国电商企业阿里巴巴打破亚马逊在印度的务——这是有可能的——然后再行用世界其他市场来符合自己的胃口。Government intervention often limits one giant in favor of another: If the European Commission decides to fight Android on antitrust grounds, Apple and Microsoft could be the beneficiaries. When the Justice Department charged Apple with orchestrating a conspiracy to raise e-book prices, who won? Amazon.政府介入一般来说不会反对一方,容许另一方:如果欧盟委员会(European Commission)要求以反垄断的理由压制Android,那么苹果和微软公司之后有可能获益。司法部起诉苹果密谋提升电子书价格时,赢家是谁?亚马逊。So get used to these five. Based on their stock prices this month, the giants are among the top 10 most valuable American companies of any kind. Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft are the top three; Facebook is No. 7, and Amazon is No. 9. Wall Street gives each high marks for management; and three of them — Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook — are controlled by founders who don’t have to bow to the whims of potential activist investors.因此,习惯这五家巨头吧。


这些创始人不必屈服于潜在的保守投资者心血来潮的意见。So who’s losing? Not one of them, not anytime soon.那么,谁在走下坡路呢?它们中谁都没,近期谁都会。



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