10 abril 2020

Covid-19 e o monopólio da Amazon

The home confinement forced on most Americans by Covid-19 has created a new dependency on internet-based services for work and for play. Although using a variety of applications gives many users the sense that they are supporting many different companies, this is a façade.

This new normal represents a near-total dependence on Amazon’s cloud-computing operation, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and places a substantial portion of our professional and social lives in the hands of a private monopolist.

The internet-based services enabling remote work and play have experienced unprecedented growth because of Covid-19 restrictions. Netflix’s new subscriber growth increased by 47 percent over the past month. The communications platform Slack added 2.5 million additional users in just one week, and the videoconferencing software Zoom was downloaded by more than 600,000 new users in one day last week and has recorded a 21 percent increase in users since December.

But these three booming applications—and many others like them—all depend on the cloud computing power of AWS. In essence, AWS lets any company outsource its computational and storage needs, to save it the expense of buying its own equipment.

And the coronavirus outbreak has made AWS more indispensable than ever. Zoom, Slack, Netflix, Reddit, and Twitter all depend on AWS for their operations. Furthermore, General Electric, Apple, and Yelp also significantly depend on AWS, paying Amazon what are essentially digital rents for the use of the AWS computer infrastructure. Apple alone pays Amazon $30 million per month for AWS. Even government agencies rely on and utilize AWS for critical aspects of their services.

The success of AWS has made the division Amazon’s most profitable operation. The most critical sector in the cloud computing market is the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) sector, which supplies clients with computer servers, data storage, and networking hardware.

AWS is the dominant market leader in the industry, with a 48 percent market share in the IaaS sector, more than triple that of its closest competitor, Microsoft.

Amazon has used its dominant market share in various anti-competitive ways that choke competition. Amazon’s computer infrastructure provides it the ability to essentially spy on its competition.


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