Everything you need to know about Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon and how they have taken over the world of tech.
What is FAMGA?
That’s just over four trillion dollars. Four. Trillion. Dollars. This is the current value of FAMGA, the group consisting of five of the largest tech brands on the entire planet: Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google (Alphabet), and Amazon. Not only have these companies created over four trillion dollars in value, but they have created this massive amount of value in a very short amount of time. The average age for one of the FAMGA companies only just over 28 years old. How in the world have five companies made so much money in such a short amount of time? Let’s dive into the world of FAMGA and find out. See Sources
Mission: To “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” 1
“Be Bold | Focus on Impact | Move Fast | Be Open | Build Social Value“ 6
Main Industry: Social Media
Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA
Mission: “To [bring] the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.” 2
“We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
We believe in the simple, not the complex.
We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.“ 7
Main Industry: Smartphones, Software, & Services
Headquarters: Cupertino, CA
Mission: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” 3
Innovation | Diversity and Inclusion | Corporate Social Responsibility | Philanthropies | Environment | Trustworthy | Computing 8
Main Industry: Operating Systems & Technology
Headquarters: Redmond, WA
Mission: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” 4
“Focus on the user and all else will follow.
It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
Fast is better than slow.
Democracy on the web works.
You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
You can make money without doing evil.
There’s always more information out there.
The need for information crosses all borders.
You can be serious without a suit.
Great just isn’t good enough.“ 9
Main Industry: Internet Search, Software, & Advertising
Headquarters: Mountain View, CA
Mission: “To be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” 5
Customer Obsession | Ownership | Invent and Simplify | Are Right, A Lot | Learn and Be Curious | Hire and Develop the Best | Insist on the Highest Standards | Think Big |Bias for Action | Frugality | Earn Trust | Dive Deep | Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit | Deliver Results 10
Main Industry: Ecommerce/ Retail
Headquarters: Seattle, WA
Becoming the most valuable brands in the world
Securing five of the top six positions in the Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2018 report(1), the companies that make up FAMGA have literally become the most valuable brands in the entire world. This comes at no surprise, with Facebook passing more than 2.2 billion monthly users(2), Microsoft capturing 120 million Office users(3) worldwide, Google owning 71.98%(4) of all the online search engine market share, Apple selling more than 1.2 billion iPhones(5), and Amazon accounting for 49.1% of all US online retail sales(6). So what was it that led to these five companies securing more than $1.173 Trillion in brand value?
Perhaps it has something to do with dropping out of college and starting in a garage. When someone drops out of school and starts something in a garage, it usually ends up in nothing but noise complaints from the neighbors and a trail of regrets. However, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon all began in the garages of their founders, and although Facebook may not have started in a garage, it was not that far off; a college dorm room. And if starting in a garage or dorm room wasn’t scrappy enough, three out of the five FAMGA founders dropped out of college; Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) from Harvard, Steve Jobs (Apple) from Reeds college, and Bill Gates (Microsoft) from Harvard.
So maybe it didn’t have to do with how they started, but it certainly has to do with one major component; technology. Every single one of the FAMGA brands became the giants they are today by taking some type of technology available at the time and transforming it into something revolutionary. Microsoft and Apple took a confusing and complicated machine and transformed it into a personal computer. Google took the new unorganized chaos known as the internet and transformed it into an organized, searchable index. Amazon took the convenience of browsing online and turned it into the simplicity of buying anything and everything at the click of a mouse. And finally, Facebook took the ability of online interaction and transformed it into a social network with the power to span the globe.
Transforming technology is the backbone of FAMGA’s success, but that is supplemented heavily by a multitude of other components that Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have learned to master. One component is each company’s laser focus on the user. For example, Amazon has been voted #1(7) in customer satisfaction for nine consecutive years by the ForeSee Experience Index: US Retail Edition. Another component is each company’s acquisition strategies. Each company has become so large that as soon as a new brand is on the rise that may become a threat, they simply offer a price that these new startups cannot refuse. This has created a unique barrier of entry for rising competitors. They are also continuing to expand into new frontiers, with Facebook entering the VR game by purchasing Oculus Rift, Amazon entering the grocery industry by purchasing Whole Foods, or Google entering home automation by purchasing Nest Labs.
With Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon continuing to grow by the second, one cannot help but wonder what the future has in store for these tech giants.
Evolution of FAMGA Names and Logos
Ever heard of Backrub (and not the kind you ask for from your spouse)? Neither had we. Turns out, Backrub was the beginnings of what we know of today as Google. Strange, right? From the time of each of their creation, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have undergone some major logo revisions and even name changes. Check out the good, the bad, and the “groovy” when it comes to the evolution of FAMGA names and logos.
Today's Leaders of FAMGA
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984 in the town of White Plains, New York. He was raised in Dobbs Ferry, a nearby small village, and took an interest in computer programming at a very young age. By the time he was 12 years old he used Atari BASIC to create his first program called “Zucknet”, a messaging program that ended up being used at his father’s dental practice. Zuckerberg went on to attend high school at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. During his time in high school he created a music program called Synapse that would remember tracks people would listen to and then create playlists based off of their music preference. After graduating from Exeter in 2002, Zuckerberg started his college career at Harvard University. Continuing his craving to create, Zuckerberg then created CourseMatch, which helped students at Harvard enroll in classes by making suggestions based off of what previous students had chosen. He then created the wildly popular and controversial Facemash, a program that would allow the user to view two pictures of Harvard students and then rate which one was more attractive. The program was soon shut down by Harvard’s administration on account of being inappropriate.(1)
At only 19 years old(2), Zuckerberg and a few friends launched a site from his dorm room that would end up becoming the giant we know of today as Facebook. It all started when he was approached by Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narenda, who were asking for his help in launching a social networking site called Harvard Connection.(1) Zuckerberg stopped working on the project shortly after in pursuit of launching his own social networking site, then called “thefacebook.com”. Working with Chris Hughes, Eduardo Saverin, and Dustin Moskovitz, Zuckerberg ran Facebook directly from his dorm room until he decided to drop out of school and move the company to Palo Alto, California in 2004.(1) The Winklevoss brothers and Narenda would later go after Mark with a lawsuit, claiming that he stole the idea from them. This would lead onto an infamously long legal battle, ending with the twins settling for at least $65 million.
Life Outside Facebook
Since starting Facebook and nurturing the company to the giant it is today, Zuckerberg’s life has never been the same. From his signature grey t-shirt appearance and his focus on his family, Zuckerberg leads a relatively frugal life. At the young age of 33, Zuckerberg has become one of the world’s wealthiest. His personal and professional goals include making the world a more connected place through the building of communities.
Zuckerberg works continuously to help the world become a more united place while also asking the tough questions of how to make the technologies we use every day more secure. On top of his role at the helm of Facebook, Mark spends his time with his wife Priscilla Chan and their daughters. Zuckerberg has also been spending a lot of time (and money) on his philanthropic efforts. Back in late 2015, he announced that he plans to give 99% of all of his Facebook shares away throughout his life, then valued at more than $45 billion.(3)
He is also focused on advancing the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a nonprofit organization he co-founded with his wife, Priscilla. The initiative has two goals; “advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity.”(4) Needless to say, Zuckerberg is keeping a lot on his plate and definitely has his sights set on making a change.
Timothy D. Cook was born in Robertsdale, Alabama on November 1, 1960. From an early age he continually excelled in his schoolwork, graduating second in his class from Robertsdale High School in 1978. He then went on to attend Auburn University, earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering in 1982. Only a few years later, Cook walked out of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business with his MBA and the title of Fuqua Scholar, something only offered to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class.(5) After his schooling, Cook jumped right into a promising career path with IBM, eventually becoming the North American Fulfillment Director. Tim was with IBM for 12 years before becoming the chief operating officer for the Reseller Division of Intelligent Electronics in 1994.(6) Only staying there for three years, Cook then made another move over to Compaq, where he was the vice president of corporate materials. During his time at Compaq, Tim was in charge of managing and procuring the large tech company’s inventory.(6) He stayed with Compaq for only six months before making the decision to move over to Apple. Little did he know that this would become the biggest decision of his life.
Tim Cook made the decision to join Apple in 1998 after being sought out directly by Steve Jobs. Even though he had only been with Compaq for six months at the time, he knew he needed to take advantage of this opportunity, stating, “my intuition already knew that joining Apple was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work for the creative genius.”(7) His decision to join Apple was not as easy as one would expect, however. At the time, Apple was experiencing profit losses with many believing their future did not look well. Despite these fears, Cook still made the decision to move over to Apple. He became the chief operating officer, handling worldwide sales and operations, managing Apple’s supply chain, and controlling various other areas such as sales, service, and support.(6) In less than a year after Cook started, Apple began reporting profits,(5) starting the long climb to becoming the tech giant we know of today. In August 2011 Tim stepped up as CEO of Apple, replacing founder Steve Jobs who died of cancer later that year.
Life Outside Apple
Tim Cook leads an intensely private life. But he’s known for keeping a refined schedule that includes getting up early and staying on top of about 800 emails every day.(8) After leading Apple to become the first company ever to reach over a trillion dollars market capitalization, Cook is and continues to be hyper-focused on the business. He continues to lead the company to higher profitability by making finetune adjustments to the company’s cash cow: the iPhone. On top of his leadership of sustained profitability, He also is reaching out for the future by potentially “reinventing the wheel” with talk of a possible Apple car. Outside of his leadership at Apple, Tim Cook sits on the board of directors for Nike. Inc., Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights as well as The National Football Foundation. He is also on the board of trustees at Duke University.(9) Generous donations to important causes he believes in help drive Cook’s actions outside of the company. Tim Cook is likely not going anywhere anytime soon with the performance of the company doing so well.
Satya Nadella was born on August 19, 1967 in Hyderabad, India. Growing up, Satya discovered two passions in life; cricket and technology. Cricket became a big part of his life, but couldn’t quite curb his craving to “build things”.(10) After attending public schools in Hyderabad, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from India’s Mangalore University.(11) Shortly after, Nadella made the decision to move over to the United States and attend the University of Wisconsin. He graduated with a masters in computer science in 1990. Nadella started out his professional career working for Sun Microsystems, staying with them until 1992. Satya then left Sun Microsystems to start his now 25-year-old Microsoft career.
Satya Nadella’s career at Microsoft has become the ultimate example of putting in hard work to climb the corporate ladder. Joining Microsoft in 1992, Satya made the strenuous commute between Microsoft’s campus and the University of Chicago during the first several years of his employment, earning him another master’s degree (this one in business administration) in 1997. During his time at Microsoft, Nadella has fulfilled many different positions, including president of the Server and Tools Business, senior vice president of research and development for the Online Services division, vice president of the Microsoft Business division, and (most recently) executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise group.(12) Perhaps his greatest accomplishment in his Microsoft career thus far was his involvement in helping Microsoft to move over to the cloud and provide cloud-based products for its customers. This takes us to early 2014, with Microsoft in need of a new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer. After a five month long search, Microsoft decided to hire Satya as Microsoft’s new CEO.(12) The fact that he was able to secure the position as CEO for one of the world’s largest companies with no prior CEO experience speaks to Satya’s powerful capabilities.
Life Outside Microsoft
Satya Nadella has had quite the ride. Compared to some of the other current leaders in FAMGA, Satya keeps a fairly low profile and does not care too much for the spotlight. Outside of Microsoft, we do know that he still enjoys cricket as well as reading poetry and taking online classes in his spare time. He also serves on the board of trustees for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the board of directors for Starbucks.(11) Satya hasn’t been head man for very long. He took over for Steve Ballmer in 2014, and given that the last CEO chang lasted 14 years(13), there is a good chance that he’ll be in it for the long haul—supposing all goes well of course. Satya Nadella lives in Bellevue, Washington with his wife Anupama and their three children. His personal hobbies include cricket and reading American and Indian poetry. Having worked for Microsoft for 22 years before taking on his leadership role over the company, Nadella has a vested interest to drive success for Microsoft. Nadella and his team are looking to the future of computing and technology and stretching to reach new horizons in AI.
Pichai Sundararajan was born on July 12, 1972 and grew up in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.(14) Sundar’s family lived in humble circumstances, with him and his brother sleeping together in the living room of their parent’s two-bedroom apartment. As he grew older, Pichai’s parents learned of his astounding ability to remember numbers, being able to recall any one of the phone numbers he had previously dialed.(15) Pichai went on to study metallurgical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Excelling in his academic studies, he was able to receive a scholarship from Stanford University. Pichai jumped on this opportunity, moved to the United States, and went on to receive his masters of science. His education did not end there, however. Sundar moved over to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and earned his MBA in 2002, receiving the honors of Siebel Scholar and Palmer Scholar.(14) As for work prior to Google, he was an engineer/product manager at Applied Materials as well as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.
Sundar chose a great day to interview with Google; April Fool’s Day. After his interview at Googleplex on April 1, 2004,(15) Sundar was invited to join Google’s team and was immediately put to work on their search toolbar. This toolbar would give users of firefox, internet explorer, and other browsers easy access to the Google search engine. The toolbar went on to be a huge success, giving Sundar a simple yet powerful idea; Google should create its own website browser.(14) The idea was initially objected by CEO Eric Schmidt, but Pichai continued to push the idea and ended up convincing cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to try it out. This went on to become Google Chrome, which is now the most used web browser in the world.(14) Around the time of Chrome’s launch, Sundar was promoted to Vice President of Product Development. This led onto a series of pivotal roles within the company, including Senior Vice President of Chrome and Apps, head of the Android division, and Product Chief.(14) Experiencing much success in his roles and gaining favor amongst coworkers, Sundar was appointed CEO of Google in October of 2015.
Life Outside Google
Sundar Pachai leads a simple domestic life outside of his leadership at the world’s most popular search engine. In recent years he has taken on a lot of heat. Google was charged with a $2.7 Billion antitrust fine filed by the European Commission in June, 2017. This fine was on account of Google denying “consumers a genuine choice”(16) Then again in August 2017 Sundar made the decision to fire employee James Damore after writing a 10-page memo expressing his opinions on diversity in the workplace. The memo included Damore’s opinion as to why women are not as successful as men in the tech industry, which Sundar would go on to state, “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.”(17) Sundar’s decision to fire Damore was met with a great deal of backlash, yet he continues to press forward with high level goals in mind. Pichai is on the board of Alphabet Inc, CapitalG and Magic Leap. Overall Sundar Pichai is known to be an empathetic leader who truly cares about people. He has a strong ability to build qualified teams.(18) We’ll see what happens as he steers Google over the next few years.
Jeff Bezos was born on January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.(19) From a very young age Bezos began to show signs of brilliance, from escaping from his baby crib using a screwdriver(20) to creating electrical gadgets around the house. During his upbringing he would spend his summers working on his grandparent’s ranch and soon took an interest in entrepreneurship. While he was still in high school, Jeff started his first business with his girlfriend. The business was called Dream Institute and was a 10-day summer camp for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders with an entry fee of $600.(20) Bezos would go on to graduate high school as his school’s valedictorian, following which he enrolled in Princeton University. Continuing his educational excellence, Jeff graduated summa cum laude with his bachelor’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering in 1986.(19) After graduation, he was offered jobs from companies such as Intel and Bell Labs, but he decided to start working for a new startup known as Fitel. Pursuing a career in finance, Bezos eventually ended up at the investment firm D.E. Shaw, where he became the company’s youngest vice president in 1990.
Along came 1994, and Jeff could no longer ignore the surging opportunity known as the internet. He said, “The wake up call was finding this startling statistic that web usage in the spring of 1994 was growing at 2,300 percent a year. You know, things just don’t grow that fast. It’s highly unusual, and that started me about thinking, ‘What kind of business plan might make sense in the context of that growth?’”(21) Knowing the potential involved with starting an online business, Bezos brainstormed 20 different industries he could enter in the online realm and ended up deciding on books. This soon led to his decision to quit his job at D.E. Shaw, move to Seattle, and start working in a garage on what would soon become Amazon.com. Starting out as an online bookstore, Amazon experienced immediate success, selling books both domestically and internationally within 30 days of beginning.(19) Just two months after opening, Amazon was already bringing in $20,000 of revenue on a weekly basis.(21) Amazon expanded to selling CDs and videos in 1998, then expanded to selling electronics, clothing, and much more. After that? Well, the rest is history.
Life Outside Amazon
As the wealthiest person in the world, Jeff Bezos has plenty going for him. He’s an effective leader and works on several projects all at once. On top of running Amazon, Jeff Bezos also runs his own aerospace company, Blue Origin, which is in competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. With big acquisitions and moonshot plans for the future of consumer good & distribution, there is no doubt that Bezos is a dreamer with a passion to make those dreams come true. Using his wealth acquired from Amazon, Bezos shared, “I have won this lottery. . . It’s a gigantic lottery, and it’s called Amazon.com. And I’m using my lottery winnings to push us a little further into space.”(22) He has his eyes currently set on the moon, saying, “it’s time for America to go back to the moon, this time to stay.”(22) Bezos would like to establish permanent settlements on the poles of the moon, using reusable rockets to make this a reality. While his dreams are set for the moon, Bezos is certainly going to also continue making waves with his endeavours here on earth. With over $100 Billion to his name, he’ll keep a close watch on Amazon. Surprisingly or not, he has not been very forthcoming with philanthropic actions. Unlike the other big name billionaires, Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge, which is a promise to give away most of one’s wealth to philanthropic causes.(23) The world will watch what Bezos can do for spaceflight and distribution innovation.
The FAMGA Timeline
Tap points to see amounts
Revenue Generated Each...
Amount of Cash on Hand
FAMGA Revenue Compared to the GDP of Each Country
How FAMGA Makes Their Billions
Several of the FAMGA members seem to be breaking the age-old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” principle, but so far so good. Think they can keep it up? Find out what products have brought home the bacon (and by bacon we mean billions upon billions of dollars) for Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon from 2010 – 2018.
Major Products and Services
We all know the members of FAMGA for their main product offerings; Facebook for its social media platform, Apple for its iPhone, Microsoft for its Windows operating system, Google for its search engine,and Amazon for its eCommerce website. Turns out, however, that these companies have their hands in a few more things… and by few we mean a lot. For example, Amazon has its own game development studio, Google has a telecommunications network, and Microsoft has LinkedIn. See all the major products and services Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have to offer. See Sources
Mobile Phone / Telecommunications
Computer / Laptop
Video Streaming and Entertainment
Cloud Storage/ Services
Payments and FinTech
Navigation and Location
E-Commerce & Retail
Grocery & Food
Number of Users Compared to Populations
The World's Dependence on FAMGA
What if Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon all of the sudden dropped off the face of the Earth? As in all of their products and services instantly disappeared. Initially you may think it would not affect you very much, but it would. It most certainly would. Nearly all of your electronic devices would either stop working or would disappear, the internet would become nothing short of mass chaos, nearly all ecommerce activity would halt, and your undying thirst to watch cat videos would forever go unquenched. If you really think about it, FAMGA now plays a part in nearly every single aspect of our day-to-day lives. Let’s take a look at just how much the world depends on FAMGA:
Just How Much Does FAMGA Know About You?
Ever wonder just how much these technology companies know about you? Maybe it’s best not to ask. Ignorance is bliss, right? Well, you are entitled to know what Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon know about you and how they know it. You will be surprised to learn a lot of information is actually given directly to them from you. Take, for example, Facebook. If you take the time to completely fill out your entire profile, chances are Facebook knows you better than a friend or even family member. One thing to add, however, is that even though each member of FAMGA has the potential to learn a ton about you, they each go through great lengths to keep your information private and secure…for the most part. Now, with that said, let’s dive in!
Find Out How Each Company Knows Your…
Entering and Conquering Industries
Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality
Facebook entered the Artificial Intelligence (AI) game to create technology to further understand AI and provide people with deeper, more intelligent ways to communicate. Facebook’s foray into AI – coined as the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) – includes the development of AI communication studies, teaching robots to mimic human expression, and AI deep learning. FAIR has been open sourced, giving developers the ability to further AI research using Facebook’s data. Along with their research of AI, Facebook has made a push for revolutionizing the augmented reality platform. 1 From the Oculus Rift VR headset to the camera and screen on your smartphone, Facebook is developing seamless AR applications. Competing against Google, Apple, and Snapchat, Facebook is aiming to revolutionize the AR platform.
The Facebook Connectivity Lab was instituted to research and develop a means to deliver internet connectivity to the more than 4 billion people without such connectivity. Facebook has even partnered with NASA to create a means to deploy a comprehensive internet infrastructure. Elon Musk of SpaceX and Google are also invested in accessible internet, but neither have launched sufficient programs to facilitate it. 2 Internet.org was created by Facebook to join efforts with tech leaders, nonprofits, and local communities to bring internet to the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have connectivity. Since creating Internet.org, Facebook has helped connect over 100 million people to the internet. 3 With connectivity already increasing, Facebook’s accessible internet initiatives could help developing nations access quality education and healthcare.
Facebook began its live video streaming service for celebrity users on August 5, 2015. Since then, Facebook Live became available to all users in April 2016, giving its 2 billion monthly users access to the feature. 4 So far, the live video services have had 3 times more engagement than traditional videos posted on Facebook, giving brands and influencers the ability to build stronger connections with their audience. Other streaming services, like Periscope and live.ly, do not have the sheer user numbers to compete long term with Facebook’s streaming service (not to mention Instagram’s live video also operates under the Facebook umbrella). Opening a new channel of direct marketing and communication can reshape the way users consume information and interact with brands, influencers, and notable organizations.
Electric Car Apple’s efforts to compete with the electric car projects of rivals Facebook and Google began with ‘Project Titan’ in 2014. 5 Initially rumored as a full-fledged, manufactured car, Project Titan has since been reported to be focused on autonomous vehicle software and artificial intelligence. Apple’s plans to create a self-driving car include reinventing the wheel – including turning wheels into spheres for added mobility and removing steering wheels – and removing gas pedals. And with their recent patent filed earlier in 2018, they may just have cracked the solution for preventing the type of accidents Tesla has become infamously known for in the headlines. The ‘pushing the envelope’ mentality of Apple could completely change the autonomous car industry and travel as we know it.
Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant, was a giant leap in AI technology for personal use. Since Siri’s induction, AI technology has expanded to a variety of mobile platforms. Apple’s latest neural engine in the A12 Bionic chip, found in the latest lineup of iPhone’s X series, is a futuristic pair of processing cores specifically designed for machine learning algorithms (for augmented reality, Face ID, and AI tasks). This chip puts AI processing directly on the mobile device, rather than in the cloud (which most devices rely on for processing). 6 Augmented reality has become a prominent selling point in its latest phone release. Apple touts its ARKit capabilities for gaming, live sports, and other uses as the best mobile AR experience. With high-fidelity, dynamic overlays using the iPhone’s cameras, Apple is able to create an immersive AR experience in the palm of your hand. Developers are given access to the ARKit to create their own iteration of AR, expanding the potential of everyday, immersive AR. 7
Environment and Sustainability An all-encompassing ‘green’ initiative puts Apple at the forefront of sustainable and environmentally conscious tech companies. The company has developed a meticulous process to disassemble used iPhones to recycle parts for other Apple products. This closed-loop supply chain would eliminate the need to continually mine the earth for resources. Ninety-six percent of electricity used at its corporate facilities was produced by clean, renewable sources (Apple data centers are powered by 100% renewable energy). The new Apple Park will be the largest LEED Platinum-certified office building in North America. Apple also takes care to eliminate greenhouse emissions and harmful chemicals from the development of their products. 8 9
Data Protection Microsoft is developing data protection technology to encrypt data while it’s in use, giving users the peace of mind of putting sensitive data in the cloud. This ‘confidential computing’ will allow healthcare, financial, and other organizations to use and transfer customer data while maintaining a secure encryption. This will be implemented into the Microsoft Azure platform of cloud storage. Companies like McAfee and Symantec that focus on local system data protection and antivirus software have not optimized for cloud-based data protection and transfer. Data storage companies are partnering with Microsoft Azure because of its direct link to the storage platform on the cloud. Microsoft Azure and its data protection will give companies the ability to transfer from device-constrained infrastructures to a the cloud-based infrastructure, providing secure, high availability and unlimited capacity for data storage. 10 11
Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality Google’s venture with augmented and virtual reality took off with the implementation of VR headsets with the Android OS. The Google Assistant was the company’s answer to portable AI, while adding multi-platform integration for a seamless AI experience (for phone, home, watch, and TV).The Android platform continues to be used for AR programs, with Google’s latest announcement the ARCore 1.4 application. 12 Like with Apple and Facebook, Google is betting on smartphone technology to increase the influence and effectiveness of AR technology. Google’s ARCore spans across a wide range of Android OS devices, with the possibility of including AR functionality with VR headsets. 13
Streaming TV Google began rolling out YouTube TV in February 2017, 14 officially entering Google in the streaming TV arena. Though the playing field is becoming saturated with streaming options, YouTube TV offers local network channels, reasonable pricing, and multi-profile streaming in order to separate itself from other streaming services. Such features can help Google become the leader in streaming TV. Forcing competitors to change their own streaming approach could open the door for more accessible content for viewers and change the TV industry.
Self-driving Car Google began its self-driving car program in 2009 and has since pushed the bounds of how autonomous vehicles learn to drive safely and efficiently. Now branded Waymo, the self-driving project has launched its Early Rider program to revolutionize autonomous ride-sharing services by giving the public the ability to sign up to use driverless vehicles in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Waymo’s focus on comprehensive safety testing has helped the project become a leader in self-driving technologies. And now, Waymo has partnered with both Chrysler and Jaguar to manufacture practical and luxury options for all-electric, autonomous cars.The manufacturing should complete in 2019 and open to the public soon after. 15
Live Streaming Sports Amazon bought the rights to Thursday Night Football live streaming for the 2017 NFL season. These rights were held by Twitter in 2016, but low ratings forced the social media platform out of the game. Amazon hoped to change how fans experience the game by offering four different streams: English, Spanish, Brazilian, and a unique ‘beginners broadcast.’ Success led Amazon to renewing for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, where they’ve expanded reach to over 200 countries and territories. Amazon streaming has pulled viewers from the networks that have traditionally broadcasted Thursday Night Football (CBS and NFL), where most mobile viewers do not have streaming services (Hulu, Playstation Vue, etc.) that offer CBS or the NFL Network. 16
Grocery Amazon initially announced its Amazon Go test store as a revolutionary way to shop. Eliminating the need for checkout stands and transitioning to an entirely digital buying process could change the entire brick and mortar shopping experience. 16 With Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, the company is positioning itself as the leader in the grocery industry. Amazon has already slashed prices on some of Whole Foods’ products, helping to make the brand more accessible for shoppers. In 2018, Amazon will also extend Prime benefits to Whole Foods’ shoppers in-store. 17 18
Working for FAMGA
The FAMGA Vault
Floating balloons that deliver internet access to those without, a wearable with the capabilities to monitor blood glucose levels, and a plan aimed towards revolutionizing the healthcare industry. These are just a few of the projects Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon currently have in the works. Step inside the FAMGA vault and learn what tricks these companies have up their sleeves for the near future.
Facebook — Building 8
Building 8 is a division of Facebook responsible for developing future hardware. Projects that are currently underway in Building 8 include everything from augmented reality to brain scanning technology.(1)
Image credit: Business Insider
Facebook — Facebook Research
The Facebook Research department is more than just a lab, it’s a way of getting things done. There are 12 areas of focus for research and all of these areas are helping push the boundaries of innovation and development. The areas of focus are AR/VR, Computational Photography & Intelligent Cameras, Computer Vision, Connectivity, Data Science, Economics & Computation, Facebook AI Research, Human-Computer Interaction & UX, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing & Speech, Security & Privacy, Systems & Networking. The research being conducted in these areas helps Facebook to enhance the experiences of its users.(2)
Apple — Project Titan
Project Titan is one of the less kept secrets to come out of Cupertino. It has been rumored for years that Apple has been interested in the car industry, and Project Titan is their work on the matter. The project was originally thought to be an Apple-made vehicle but some say has shifted to strictly autonomous vehicle software.(3)
Image credit: Mac Rumors
Apple — AR/VR
With the recent addition of ARKit as a new framework in iOS 11, it appears that Apple is betting on augmented reality as a key future tech. Apple has even been experimenting with a variety of AR glasses that could potentially be added to its wearable product lineup.(4)
Image credit: Mac Rumors
Apple — Project Isabel
One of the growing aspects of Apple’s business in the past few years has been its software and services. Apple has been rumored to have a secret data center in the works (known as Project Isabel) to help with the growing number of pictures, documents, etc. added to its iCloud platform everyday.(5)
Image Credit: Apple
Apple — Glucose Monitoring for Diabetes
Apple released its first wearable in 2015 when it came out with the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is known for monitoring basic health information, and now rumors are circulating that Apple is working on something that would assist in monitoring diabetes, something that affects 29.1 million people in the United States. Whether that involves the Apple Watch or a separate device is unknown at this time.(6)
Image Credit: Hit Consultant
Microsoft — Beihai
Beihai is the codename for an unreleased Windows 10 app that was discovered by @h0x0d on Twitter. The app is believed to be consumer based and focused around Windows 10 and HoloLens, Microsoft’s VR set.(7)
Image Credit: zdnet
Microsoft — Andromeda
Microsoft has been working on a device that will blur the lines between phone, tablet, and pc. The project is both a hardware effort as well as a software effort. The Surface Andromeda is hoped to bring a new use for the Windows 10 OS and enable it to work with mobile devices. Similar to previous product launches of the Surface Studio and the original Surface Pro, the Andromeda will likely be created for low-volume or non-existent markets. The device will not be positioned as a smartphone.(8)
Image Credit: BGR
Microsoft — AI
Microsoft has a significant interest in the development and expansion of AI-based projects. Everything from the companies cloud-based, open sourced development software—Microsoft Azure, to agricultural technologies enabling near perfect harvests and reduced waste. The ideas and technologies that will become available through Microsoft AI will be something to pay attention to.(9)
Google — X
Google X, now simply called “X”, is a company created by Google and now operated under the Alphabet, Inc umbrella. As a moonshot company they hope to research and create new and sometimes radical technologies that could provide breakthroughs and major changes in the world.(10)
Google — Malta
One of the explorations at X is called Malta. Malta is a project who’s aim is to “capture more clean energy when it’s produced by using salt to store it on a large scale.”(11) Malta began in 2015 and is currently ongoing.
Image Credit: X Company
Google — Wing
Project Wing under X is a project that is attempting to create a drone delivery system. Since its creation in 2014 the goal of Project Wing has been to create a safe, fast, and reliable method to deliver “everything from consumer goods to emergency medicine” via unmanned aircraft.(12)
Image Credit: X Company
Google — Loon
Another project under X is known as Project Loon. Loon has the goal of providing access to the internet for the 2/3 of the world’s population that still don’t have internet access. The project aims to place a “network of balloons” into the stratosphere that connect to provide cellular connection to the Earth below.(13)
Image Credit: X Company
Google — Makani
Makani is also an X project. The goal of Makani is to “make clean energy accessible for everyone.”(14) The project is creating a new style of wind turbines in the form of kites that use less materials and create more energy.
Image Credit: X Company
Google — Waymo
In 2009 a self-driving car project began at Google. This eventually evolved into its own company under Alphabet, Inc. and is now known as Waymo. Waymo has created not only autonomous vehicle technology but the self-driving vehicles as well. Waymo has driven over 3 million total miles with 25,000 coming each week. The project is currently inviting residents of Phoenix, AZ to join a public trial.(15)
Image Credit: CNBC
Google — DeepMind
DeepMind is an artificial intelligence company that started in 2010 and was purchased by Google in 2014, which is now under Alphabet, Inc. They are attempting to develop A.I. programs “that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be taught how.”(19) They list potential influences on climate change and improved healthcare.(13)
Google — Verily Life Services
Verily Life Services is a data science and healthcare company under Alphabet, Inc. Verily’s goal is to develop “tools and platforms to enable more continous health data collection”(484) to help make better time-based decisions and intervene in healthcare when needed.
Google — Calico
Calico is a research and development company under Alphabet, Inc. that is based around aging, health, and well-being.(479) Calico began in 2013 as a Google company with Art Levinson, current Chairman of Apple, Inc. as its CEO.(485)
Google — Sidewalk Labs
Another Alphabet, Inc. company is Sidewalk Labs. Sidewalk Labs “imagines, designs, tests, and builds urban innovations”(486) in an effort to help cities create solutions for problems that may exist while also helping develop solutions for the future.(480)
Amazon — Lab126
Lab126 is an Amazon company that is based in San Francisco. The goal for this development section of Amazon is to create new and innovative consumer electronic devices. Some of the lab’s creations are Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, Fire TV, and Amazon Echo.(481)
Amazon — Team 1492
Amazon has a secret health care project known as team 1492. The focus of this health project is healthcare tech, electronic medical records, and virtual doctor visits.(482)
Image Credit: CNBC
Amazon – Vesta
It started with the advent of the Kindle, getting people familiar with reading on electronic devices, then came the “Echo” helping people become familiar with talking to computers. Is this in preparation for a domestic robot? We’ll see. They are working on project Vesta with hopes of an efficient, practical home robot.(483)
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