BOOK REVIEW - THE FOUR : The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google - SCOTT GALLOWAY


‘The Four’ considers the enormous power accrued – for good and for (tax-avoiding, job-destroying, fake news-propagating) ill – by the big four technology giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

This examination takes place at a very interesting time for, as author Scott Galloway makes abundantly clear, the only competition the Four face is from each other, and the race is now on between them to become the premier operating system.

The first half of the book looks at the history of retail and the business strategies of each of the Four (such as the inspired decision to transition Apple from a tech to a luxury brand and to move into retail), whilst the second half chiefly considers the Four’s relations with governments and competitors and suggests future trends. 

Galloway most definitely knows what he’s talking about. Now Professor of Marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business, he previously founded or co-founded nine firms, some of which foundered at the hands of the Four. These experiences have not embittered him. On the contrary, he writes not only with great insight but also with considerable humour, not least about the origins of our consumerist cravings.

In so doing, Galloway occasionally overstates his case, as when he writes that, “At its core, Apple fills two instinctual needs: to feel closer to God and be more attractive to the opposite sex.” The bald facts are already sufficiently astonishing - Apple has “a cash pile greater than the GDP of Denmark, the Russian stock market, and the market cap of Boeing, Airbus and Nike combined” - for there to be any need for this kind of hyperbole.

This book is by turns frightening and funny, depressing (on the demise of quality print journalism) and visionary (on the possibility of a tuition-free university). 

I cannot recommend it too highly, as it is both a superb eye-opener and an entertaining page-turner.