Why, just look at the clock: this is information you can use! In this recurring series on the CallRail Blog, we review the most important recent headlines in technology and marketing, and explain what it all could mean for your business. Because, as the old saying goes, following the news isn't just good citizenship, it's good for business. 1) FTC Announces Task Force to Monitor Competition in Tech Markets ( FTC Press )With an avowed mandate to bring more transparency to the inner workings of the biggest tech companies, a newly established initiative at the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could become a powerful counterweight to digital behemoths like Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon. The move follows a series of high-profile acquisitions in the tech industry, which in turn have sparked criticism that US regulators are doing little to stem the monopolistic and anti-competitive practices of the biggest tech companies.
The role of technology in the economy and in our lives becomes more important every day," FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement announcing the commission. "As I've noted in the past, it makes sense that we look closely at technology markets to ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition." Marketers should pay close attention to one particular power of this initiative: dissolve mergers and break up big tech companies, if the commission is able to demonstrate “competitive harm” to markets. Savvy digital marketers will likely welcome the breaking of the Facebook-Google ad duopoly — antitrust action will spur competition, ensuring lower and more transparent ad pricing. 2) Microsoft employees protest the company's military contract for VR technology ( BBC )At least 50 Microsoft employees have released a petition asking the company to cancel a contract with the US military to provide augmented reality technology.
In the letter, the company's HoloLens VR headset developers and engineers demanded that the technology "must not be used to help people kill." The signatories also call on Microsoft to cease development of all military technologies and to draft a public policy statement on future military partnerships. They also call for the creation of an “independent and external ethics review board” to oversee compliance with these policies. Previously, Microsoft agreed to a $479 million deal to develop technology and hardware prototypes for around 100,000 VR headsets. “We always value employee feedback and have many opportunities for employee voices to be heard,” a Microsoft representative said in response to the petition. In this case, the petition will almost certainly be unsuccessful: Microsoft Corporation retains sole ownership of HoloLens and has announced that it will continue to pursue lucrative military contracts. Nevertheless, this incident raises important questions about the future of the technology industry.