A list of non-“Big Five” tech company software/hardware

Mac vs Linux vs Windows
Flickr photo by Javier Aroche (CC BY)

For quite awhile, people have argued over various technology giants’ downsides. Some of their negative aspects are subjective. For example, I like Apple’s OS X and Chromebooks, but many can’t stand either piece of tech.

The major tech companies do  have their positive aspects. Still, I have a list of downsides for each of the “Big Five” tech companies. The “Big Five” defined by me include: Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook:

  • Apple tends to be expensive and somewhat proprietary. They’re still tied to iTunes instead of offering as an option a web-based store or media player like every other digital media vendor?
  • Microsoft’s security issues in Windows have long been a concern, to the point that Windows basically requires antivirus and anti-malware software to use out of the box.
  • Google relies on advertising to make money, which brings a host of downsides, privacy issues particularly. They’re also often quick to kill off features or services via their “spring cleanings,” making it questionable how committed they’ll be in the long run to any new services they offer.
  • Amazon is basically an online version of Wal-Mart, with all the downsides of that business model. Like Wal-Mart, Amazon’s treatment of its employees has been controversial.
  • Facebook’s privacy settings are lackluster at best. Like Google, Facebook also has the same problems of relying on advertising as a business model. Finally, there’s Facebook’s “curating” of feeds and (basically) requiring those with business/fan pages to pay for a “boost” to have any post visibility. This reduces the appeal of running a fan or business page for anyone other than large companies, high profile figures, or celebrities.

Given all of the above, some more ideological people might be interested in trying services not from the aforementioned “Big Five.” But what software, hardware, and services are available?

Below is a list of some software (word processors, browsers, etc.) and hardware (streaming boxes, etc.) available that aren’t from Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. Some are taken from my free software and Chromebook users guides.

Office suite

  • LibreOffice

Note taking

  • Evernote

Play music/streaming audio

  • Spotify (streaming)
  • Pandora (streaming)
  • Banshee (stand-alone player)

Play video files

  • VLC

Streaming video

  • Netflix
  • Hulu

Streaming device

  • Roku

Edit photos

  • Photoshop
  • Pixlr
  • GIMP

Email/webmail

  • Thunderbird (stand-alone program)
  • Yahoo (webmail)
  • Your own domain (webmail or with a stand-alone program)

Web browser

  • Firefox

Podcasts

  • Stitcher

Comics

My Comixology alternatives guide lists some possible alternatives to Comixology (now owned by Amazon). But here’s some digital comics sellers that aren’t owned by the “Big Five”:

  • Image Comics
  • Dynamic Comics
  • Dark Horse Comics
  • Thrillbent
  • DriveThruComics.com
  • Nook Store (Barnes and Noble)
  • Kobo

There’s also plenty of stand-alone comic readers:

  • Simple Comic (OS X)
  • MComix (Linux)

Finances

  • Quicken
  • Mint.com
  • LibreOffice spreadsheet

Password management

  • LastPass
  • KeePass

Home media server

  • Plex

Cloud storage

  • Dropbox

Social media

  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Vine
  • Snapchat

Operating system

  • Linux Mint
  • Ubuntu

That covers most uses. The above list, of course, won’t be quite as convenient as using “Big Five” tech. For instance, I couldn’t think of obvious or adequate alternatives for video chatting; Skype, Facetime, and Google Hangouts seem to have that market sewn up. And I feel anyone not technically inclined or with strong tech support available should stick with Windows or OS X as their primary operating systems, or consider a Chromebook as a secondary choice.

(Updated 12/13/16)

2 Comments

    • Yes, I’ve noticed that about Evernote too. Some possible alternatives not owned by the “Big 5”: Any.do; Todoist; Remember the Milk. Another option depending on needs might be Trello.

      (Edit: Wanderlust’s parent company is as of June 2015 now owned by Microsoft, so scratch that one…)

      (Edit: Also another option that’s mainly note taking, Simplenote, owned by the makers of WordPress.)

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