According to a 2017 Statista survey, the four internet behemoths that make up GAFA are all now household names and an integral part of modern society with an average recognition rate of over 90% of respondents. The top brand was Google, scoring 96%, closely followed by Amazon at 94%.
Let’s discuss how they are different.
As everyone knows, Google is a leader among web search engines and people are “googling” every day when they are looking for something to buy. Google is also big in cloud computing and has developed a variety of products relating to planning, management, storage, emails (Gmail), translations, web referencing, photo sharing, videos (YouTube), and geolocation (Google Maps). Google also runs the Android operating system and the Chrome web browser. The company has recently launched Google Home, an online assistant to provide the user with the latest information about the weather, sports, finance, and more. Google’s dominance means that approximately 69% of people use at least one Google service or product every day.
Apple is the top seller of hardware products - the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, the Mac computer, and the Apple watch. Apple also runs the iOs operating system, the iCloud, the Mac App Store, and Apple Music. It has physical retail outlets, with over 500 Apple stores spread across 19 countries. It might seem counterintuitive to go to a physical store to buy a product that you will use for online shopping, but people camp out overnight to get the latest iPhone. Steve Jobs made the Apple brand one of the most important international entities in the world. In spite of fierce competition in the field of technology development, Apple has been able to hold its own and remains among the leaders.
Facebook was the first universal social network and has since become the main communication medium at both the personal and professional level. Facebook enables businesses to interact with their customers and potential customers online through their published content. Many potential shoppers log on with their mobile phone and stay on Facebook throughout the day to talk to friends, check the news, share opinions, send messages, and follow their favorite publishers. Facebook now has a customized platform called Facebook Watch where users can watch videos. Surveys found that 87% of people have a Facebook account and 72% of those use Facebook daily.
The story of Amazon is amazing. Their journey from being an online bookstore to becoming an ecommerce giant has been nothing short of a stunning success. One survey suggests that 44% of consumers begin their search directly on Amazon rather than using any other search engine. Amazon is an example of the best in operational efficiency, enabling it to set and meet skyrocketing customer expectations with respect to customer service. It’s possible that one day drones will accomplish even faster Amazon deliveries. Amazon also offers AWS (Amazon Web Services) which provides on-demand, secure cloud computing platforms and entertainment services through Amazon Prime.
The Future of GAFA
The GAFA giants will likely expand their businesses by continuing to purchase other companies that complement their existing activities, e.g., Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. They will also continue to buy competitive startups that are viewed as viable alternatives to the biggest players in the internet game. Recent concerns around privacy issues and societal influences are, thus far, not enough for consumers to abstain from using the GAFA companies. Therefore, it is likely that these behemoths are here to stay for the time being and will grow even bigger.
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