Chronic. January is the month of good resolutions, but also of assessments and perspectives. Pointed out for several years for their power deemed excessive by States around the world, where are the GAFA? So far, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are doing pretty well. A stock market index is not a faithful reflection of reality, but the temporary crossing, by Apple, on January 3, of the bar of 3,000 billion dollars in capitalization (approximately 2,600 billion euros) has symbolic value.
Reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic and confinements, like all digital companies, Apple’s share price has grown by 478% in five years. That of Amazon by 295%, that of Google by 233%, that of Facebook by 155%. In comparison, the CAC 40 gained “only” 46%, and the capitalization of the top 40 French companies does not exceed 2,670 billion dollars, against 7,180 for these four digital giants alone.
Financial analysts therefore still see thriving economic prospects for these companies. However, procedures and attempts at regulation targeted at these groups, and the political climate has hardened since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
The digital giants have already fueled several offensives, without seeing their activity called into question. The billions in fines suffered by the European Commission for abuse of a dominant position, in particular at Google, have had little effect, given their profits. The European Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2016 has not, for the time being, upset their positions of power on online advertising. Google and Facebook have started to comply with the neighboring right granted to the media by the European copyright directive of 2019, paying them an amount of the order of a few tens of millions of euros in France.
The “GAFA taxes” like that of France will eventually be paid by the international system of the OECD, which will affect all economic sectors and will above all rebalance the taxes paid by the digital giants between the United States and the rest of the world. Criticized because they are subject to the extraterritorial laws of the United States, the cloud giants, such as Google, Microsoft or Amazon, have found a possible way out with the “hybrid” cloud model, which has data hosted by European companies but uses software Americans.
A story to write
Europe and France are taking a new path, with two regulatory projects for major online services and social networks, the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act. But companies will try to try compromise solutions, as Google did after being condemned by Brussels for having favored its Google Shopping comparator on Google or its search engine on its Android phones.
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