In the linked interactive feature, the New York Times posed the question:
If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?
The first is an easy pick for me. Apple, the seller of shiny, overpriced products, powered by a buggy cloud, with a mobile operating system on which things are either dumbed down to 5-year old simplicity or completely impossible. I have owned Apple products in the past, including an iPod Touch I still use occasionally, but in my personal opinion Apple operating systems are inferior to other options and build quality of Apple products is not significantly above that of their competitors to justify the incredible price markup. I hate iTunes with a burning passion and frequently will not purchase music I intend to purchase if it is not available from Amazon or Google Play.
The second is a little harder. Although Facebook isn’t a huge part of my life or my existence, and seems to me like mostly Wedding-book and BabyPicture-book these days, Facebook groups and Facebook Messenger still are the primary method of connection I have with certain friends, and cutting them out or trying to find another way to keep in touch would be the most challenging.
In third place, I put Amazon, although maybe in some ways third and fourth may be interchangeable. As a resident of a small town, Amazon is practically necessary to get certain goods and services that are otherwise unavailable or available only from Wal-Mart. I am a Prime subscriber, and I do order several items from them a year, my purchasing in general and purchasing from Amazon in particular has reduced from previous years. I do use Amazon Music sometimes, but not as often as Google Music (more on that in a bit), and Amazon Prime Video, but less often than YouTube. I have used AWS and Amazon Cloud Drive in the past, but not to a significant extent and not much anymore. Giving up the amazing Kindle e-reader and its marketplace would probably be the hardest thing for me to replace about Amazon.
In fourth place, Microsoft. Although I am a fan of Linux and open source alternatives to Office, higher education institutions frequently have a significant tie to Microsoft at an institutional level. Specifically in career services, most work with students’ resumes and corporate job postings is done in Microsoft Word. Not being able to natively edit documents in Office would be a significant professional challenge, and one more likely to cause confusion with students and companies than anything else. My personal primary computing device is a Surface Pro 3, that I love dearly (but hope to upgrade to a Surface Pro 5 if possible) – the pen is amazing for annotating and editing student documents, and wonderful for note taking inside and outside meetings. I am a heavy user of OneDrive, with at least 350 GB of the 1TB I get from Office 365 currently in use. I also enjoy the flexibility Windows provides for gaming – one of my favorite pastimes. The idea of struggling to get some of my favorite games to function on Linux or Mac is somewhat difficult to bear.
Finally, I can’t even adequately describe how I could replace Google if I had to – I have owned and loved several Android devices, including my Nexus 6P. I use Project Fi as my phone service (and previously used Google Voice). I use Google Drive frequently both at work and personally (but the latter to a lesser extent than OneDrive). I subscribe to YouTube Red, which I use watch often (but not really the exclusive content, just to skip YouTube commercials), and I frequently listen to Google Music (included in YouTube Red membership). I use Google developer tools, including some of their cloud tools, for things that I work on. I use Google Keep to track blog post ideas and other thoughts. I was involved on Google+ for a significant period of time, and I use Hangouts somewhat extensively. In making my own websites, I rely upon Google Analytics, and if I were ever to sell ads on my website, Google’s ad network would be the first option I look at. (And I haven’t even mentioned Google Search or Google Now, which I use dozens of times a day!) I am also personally a Google shareholder – I believe this company will continue to do great things into the future.