Many New Zealanders are eagerly awaiting Amazon's arrival Down Under and the convenience, speed and cheaper prices the online shopping giant is able to offer.

New Zealand's top bosses, on the other hand, are feeling far more ambivalent about the retailing juggernaut.

They have good reason to be apprehensive. The e-commerce colossus has yet to even make landfall across the Tasman but is already weighing on the share price of companies like Trade Me and Sky Television.

Under the direction of Jeff Bezos, the $660 billion behemoth has wreaked turmoil for any sector where it has made a move. In July - a month after Amazon bought America's Whole Foods chain - more than US$30 billion ($42b) had been wiped off the market capitalisation of listed supermarkets in the United States.


The Seattle-based company is not unique. It is just one of a growing number of tech giants whose market power has swelled over the past decade.

Others - like Facebook and Google - have turned old models on their heads and fundamentally changed industries like advertising, marketing and media. That hasn't seemed to bother consumers one bit and Facebook alone has more than 2 billion users globally.

It has, however, drawn the attention of competition regulators.

Since former Danish MP Margrethe Vestager took over as European Commissioner for Competition, Silicon Valley has been slapped with a string of big fines. In one case in June, Google was ordered by pay a record 2.4 billion euro fine for skewing results on its search engine towards its own products.

Vestager gave Google's parent Alphabet around three months to "stop its illegal conduct" or face further sanction. Commentators saw the decision as putting Google "on parole" and believed it could have big implications for other products under its umbrella, including its online maps service.

Smaller domestic watchdogs are also getting in on the action. Germany's Federal Cartel Office revealed in July it was examining how Facebook collects detailed user information that allows it sell lucrative targeted ads. The office was concerned Facebook was effectively bullying users into accepting terms and conditions they didn't understand.

There have been no rumblings of any such regulation here. But there is appetite from business leaders for the Commerce Commission to launch it's own investigation into the global giants.

Some 38 per cent of respondents to the Mood of the Boardroom Election Survey want Mark Berry and his team to constrain the likes of Amazon and Google or probe their market power.

A similar proportion were against any such move, while a further 28 per cent were on the fence.

Whatever conclusions an inquiry would reach, regulating internet companies is a tough business. Short of going down the Chinese Government's route of blocking access, any decision would be incredibly difficult to enforce, given these companies don't need a physical presence to reach millions of New Zealanders.

And because of the breakneck pace of technological change and slow-moving nature of regulation, the market is likely to have evolved considerably by the time any probe is completed.

Facebook's or Google's own business models could well be disrupted by a new service in that time.

That doesn't mean Kiwi companies can ignore these giants - they would do so at their peril.

But nor should they wait for a regulator to come to the rescue.

They need to work with these new dominant players to ensure they can get a share of their revenue, or adapt their own businesses so they're best placed to compete with them.

The Herald's Mood of the Boardroom 2017 Election Survey attracted participation from 118 respondents. The results were debated this morning by shadow finance spokesman Grant Robertson and National's Finance Minister Steven Joyce.