Mar.8 (Dow Jones) -- Big Techs dominance these days certainly shouldnt be taken for granted. Nor should its permanence.

Calls to break up or otherwise curb the growing scale of todays technology giants have been increasing recently. The Federal Trade Commission said last week that it is creating a new task force to closely examine technology markets for antitrust violations, possibly even seeking to unwind past merger deals it deems in conflict with that ideal.

Elizabeth Warren, senior senator from Massachusetts and a Democratic presidential hopeful, took it a step further Friday, unveiling a proposal to break up Google, Amazon.com and Facebook in part by undoing several past acquisitions, such as Facebooks purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp and Googles deals for Waze, DoubleClick and Nest.

The odds of that are still small and any action likely a long way off given the inevitable political and legal challenges. They cant be dismissed outright, though, given that Big Tech has become a favorite target on both sides of the political aisle. But the history of the technology industry already shows that dominance is a revolving door and that many companies have cycled through it with little to no help from the government.

Take IBM . Big Blue was the worlds most valuable company through most of the 80s and seemingly had its hooks into nearly every business large and small. The company still generates nearly $80 billion a year in revenue43% more than Facebook, incidentallybut has lost most its dominance through a combination of technology shifts and business decisions.

Such shifts arent always reflected in a companys financial statements. Cisco generates nearly three times the revenue that it did in 2000, when its market value peaked as part of the dot-com bubble. The company still supplies much of the gear that powers todays Internet, but its clout has fadedit isnt even one of the 20 most valuable companies in the S&P 500 index. Intel likewise still supplies the vast majority of the key processors that power PCs and servers, yet is also now facing fresh challenges by rivals in both semiconductor production and chip design.

Ms. Warrens proposal notably omits Microsoft as a target, even though the software giant has recently reclaimed its spot as the worlds most valuable company. That happened despite past government crackdowns that forced the company to unbundle its Internet browser from its operating system.

Even if the latest breakup calls ultimately are successful, one should note that the governments most famous such case of allthe dissolution of the Bell System in the early 80shas ultimately resulted in a new Ma Bell that also now owns HBO, CNN and one of Hollywoods largest movie studios. That wouldnt be the happiest of endings for those who think politics can override the business cycle.

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Fecha de publicación: 08/03/2019