Technology Giants: Another Game of Thrones

Since the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead was today, I was reminded of how close (or far away, depending on how you look at it) the Game of Thrones return is. It is one of my favorite television shows currently, especially because it is so complicated. Most of the fun, at least for me, is trying to predict what each ‘player’ will do next in order to secure the Iron Throne. The television show itself already has such a strong connection to networks and what we’re learning in class, so I found this article from the Economist extremely interesting, especially since it relates Game of Thrones to real life companies who are vying to be the best: Technology Giants at War: Another Game of Thrones by  (found here: The article goes into detail about some of the four biggest technology companies (Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook) and their relationships with each other. “”In the modern history of technology we have never seen such a highly engaged group of chief executives and founders,” says Mary Meeker, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture-capital company.” Because technology and these companies have advanced so much, competition is just that much more cut throat. They compete over phones, search engines, digital books and music, and much more, blurring the lines between markets, as all our technology converges towards optimizing our tools. The article doesn’t go too deeply into the network aspect of the warring companies, but it reminded me of the weak and strong ties chapter, in which we learned that certain edges can have a + or a – in order to demonstrate whether or not a relationship is friendly or not. The relationship between these companies can be somewhat likened to the relationships between the countries before War World I, in which there were 2 giant components that were against each other. The article concludes with, “Their lordships Page, Cook, Zuckerberg and Bezos thus need to map a course for their respective firms through dangerous legal and regulatory territory. At the same time they have to avoid being distracted from fighting their rivals; the mad emperors of Microsoft lost a lot of ground by taking on the inhuman might of the Department of Justice. And the shareholders, hungry for returns in a moribund global economy, need to be kept happy.” Here, game theory is barely present, but it is there. Each company must act while thinking of what the other companies might do, while the relationships between the companies is also noted. Google and Apple haven’t been getting along (especially over the Maps app); Apple and Amazon are fighting furiously over the e-book market. It is interesting that what we are learning in class is present in both my favorite television show and in the biggest current technology company rivalries.

Til next week,

Sarah K.