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Case Study: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Deighton, John, and Leora Kornfeld. "Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google." Harvard Business School Case 513-060, January 2013. (Revised December 2013.)

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Also recommended: Kill your own business by Deborah Friedell. In London Review of Books (2013), vol. 35, N 23, pp. 17-19. Accessed July 22, 2014.

This case examines the contest for platform dominance in online commerce and advertising among four firms collectively valued at $1 trillion: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Though today each firm has a different set of core competencies and products, their domains have begun to overlap and it’s likely in the near future they will overlap even more. Facebook, founded as a social network is now competing with Amazon, originally an online bookseller, in the gift market, while Google, a company best known for its search engine, now competes with Apple, once a hardware manufacturer, in the market for mobile phone operating systems. All four are competing by placing technology bets and marshaling big data insights form the user data of their customers. Understanding their respective strengths and vulnerabilities is key to analyzing the future Internet landscape.

Read the case carefully and then respond to the following questions. Consider revenue from both advertising and e-commerce.

  1. 1. Define the contested boundaries among Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
  2. 2. For each contested boundary that you have identified, how is the contest likely to play out?
  3. 3. How many contests give rise to all-or-nothing markets?
  4. 4. How many to always-a-share markets?

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