This was a fascinating read from local serial entrepreneur, investor, and Raleigh-Durham tech community stalwart David Gardner. He opens by praising Jeff Bezos for maintaining the culture of innovation that Amazon maintained after exploding on the scene in the late ‘90s. But quickly pivots to show how even in that culture of innovation, the dangers of depending on major conglomerates in the ‘tech era’ may be akin to the monopoly busting of the 1980s.
In brief, the article details the after-effects of Gardner's family Amazon account being suspended because of suspicion of fraudulent activity and how it affected their daily life through the many Amazon and Whole Foods services and devices they rely on daily. The kicker was his inability to be able to contact anyone at Amazon who can help them out, especially from a company that claims “customer obsession” and “commitment to operational excellence” among their guiding principles.
The article was particularly eye-opening to me as I think about my relationship with Apple. As a relatively early adopter of technology, I put down my Blackberry Pearl for the iPhone 3G in mid-2008. That was followed closely by the 1st generation MacBook Air, which led to the Time Capsule, Airport Express, 2nd Generation Air, several MacBooks, iPhones 4s, 6, 7, X, and now the 11.
Currently, my life is powered by Apple - my iPhone 11, Apple TV, MacBook Air, and work MacBook Pro are all connected via iCloud, Apple Music, Apple TV, Apple Photos, Apple Mail, and way too many apps (many of which don’t have a web version).
The rest of my technological life seems to exist primarily among Google for work collaboration and Amazon for reading and shopping since I have a severe aversiveness to the brick and mortar experience.
What would I do if my Apple account were suspended? I couldn’t watch TV, I wouldn’t have email access among many other things I’m surely not aware of. What if my Amazon access were revoked like Mr. Gardner, I’d have to go to the store with more regularity–pass!
As we move through the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and experts like the Mckinsey Global Institute estimate that change is happening ten times faster than the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century, technology will be increasingly a part of our entire existence, especially depending on the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How are you prepared to deal with a situation where you’re locked out of your favorite tech providers, or heaven forbid - there is a massive hack on it and the system is brought down? This article has certainly given me pause.