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The Monopolies That Dominate the Internet 342

Posted by kdawson
from the meet-the-new-boss dept.
Tim Wu has a piece up at the Wall Street Journal pointing out that the free-market, open Internet — "competition in its purest form" — has evolved to be dominated by monopolies. Wu argues that this is nothing new, and that each wave of information technology in the US has followed a similar pattern. "Today's Internet borders will probably change eventually, especially as new markets appear. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that we are living in an age of large information monopolies. Could it be that the free market on the Internet actually tends toward monopolies? Could it even be that demand, of all things, is actually winnowing the online free market — that Americans, so diverse and individualistic, actually love these monopolies? ... Info-monopolies tend to be good-to-great in the short term and bad-to-terrible in the long term."
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The Monopolies That Dominate the Internet

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  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:01PM (#34217344) Homepage Journal
    free market is what tends towards monopolies eventually. because there is competition, and nothing to prevent the big players from getting bigger, unless they make a HUGE mistake, all 'free' markets only function as free for all initial chaos environments until a hierarchy and order is established. as per the below post :

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1847700&cid=34083272 [slashdot.org]
    • It's a feature of the supply of credit to the market. You make money by pushing your competitors out of the market and taking their business. Credit is what allows you to do that.

      In addition, the fact that you have loans to pay means you are largely required by your creditors to grow.
       

      • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:21PM (#34217460) Homepage Journal
        irrelevant. even if there was no credit, in the long run all the assets would consolidate at the hands of more successful competitors. that is even assuming they started off equally, which is never the case.

        read the post i linked down in the grandparent.
        • by sjames (1099)

          Exactly. The reason is simple, money attracts money. It always has and always will. In the absence of a re-distribution framework, those that have lots will always be able to siphon more off from those who have little.

          Put another way, an unregulated free market is intrinsically unstable. There exist a number of local minima where competition exists, but eventually it all falls into the deep well of a monopoly. This should surprise nobody, Adam Smith pointed out the need for regulation to avoid exactly that

          • by unity100 (970058)

            Adam Smith pointed out the need for regulation to avoid exactly that fate.

            can you provide a link to a source. it would be great to clear out some misconceptions in future discussions.

            tho, regulation can never be enough. any group will grow as large as the society allows them. if you allow them to be as large as a country (like the 6-9 companies that dominate the world's biggest economic entities list in top 13), they will eventually become as powerful as countries.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by sjames (1099)

              Start with The Wealth of Nations [gutenberg.org]. Keep in mind while reading that he was writing about a very different world. Consider his examples and how they are changed in a world where corporations far more common (in his day it was possible for an individual to never do business with a corporation without even trying).

              Then search on Adam Smith market regulation. Have a pound of salt handy, you'll find everything from insightful analysis to the worst sort of economic fundamentalism.

              IMHO, we need to replace the web of

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jc42 (318812)

              Adam Smith pointed out the need for regulation to avoid exactly that fate.

              can you provide a link to a source. it would be great to clear out some misconceptions in future discussions.

              Nah; it wouldn't clear up anything. I've read the Adam Smith comments on the topic in other /. discussions and in numerous other forums. It never has any effect. The True Believers never accept that Smith wrote such things, and others Who Knew It All Along just skim over them and go onto more interesting things. Quoting him once again won't have any more effect than it did elsewhere.

              Let's face it, very few of the Free Market types have ever bothered to read Adam Smith. It's a lot like the way that most

          • "an unregulated free market is intrinsically unstable"

            Actually an "unregulated free market" is an oxymoron, the "market" is not a physical thing it's a set of regulations that govern trade. Therefore an "unregulated market" doesn't make sense since it translates to a set of rules with no rules. "Free" simply means everyone is free to partcipate provided they play by the rules.

            Contract law, property rights, legal tender, etc, are all part of the regulations that go into making the internet a "market",
      • by Z34107 (925136)

        Let's look at your post:

        You make money by pushing your competitors out of the market and taking their business.

        You don't have to, but you certainly will make money if you accomplish all that. So far, so good.

        Credit is what allows you to do that.

        I don't get it. Are you the only person with credit? Do you have more credit than your competitors? Would anyone give you that much credit if you weren't already pushing your competitors out? "Having more credit" only makes a difference if you use it, which is the same as "having more debt." How does that help?

        In addition, the fact that you have loans to pay means you are largely required by your creditors to grow.

        Your creditors don't "largely require" you to do shit other than pay them

        • by hedwards (940851)
          Credit accelerates the problem. Because it tends towards a cumulative effect. As you gain assets you have both more control over the market, enabling you to more easily service the loans, and more to put up as collateral.

          You are however correct, that even without credit you would still see the same pattern, albeit much more slowly.
        • Your creditors don't "largely require" you to do shit other than pay them back.

          With interest. Presumably if you can't afford it now but you can afford to pay extra later then you've done something profitable with the money in the meantime.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Mr. Slippery (47854)

        You make money by pushing your competitors out of the market and taking their business. Credit is what allows you to do that. In addition, the fact that you have loans to pay means you are largely required by your creditors to grow.

        It's not just credit, but all forms of investment where the investor -- who is not involved in the actual production of goods and services -- supplies capital with the expectation to receive profit later. (And that profit has to be skimmed off the top of the productivity of the p

    • by icebike (68054)

      Way to pimp your own post...

      But the internet has very low barriers to entry, making it easy for small players like a couple of college kids to go big time (facebook, google, etc).

      The next big thing could arrive any day. We don't know what it is because we are not there yet.

      Ownership of much of the web can not be asserted by monopolies, and the bits that can become irrelevant soon enough.

      That there are big players at any given point in time is no surprise, that most of the start ups fail is no surprise. Its

      • by arivanov (12034) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @06:03PM (#34217670) Homepage

        That _WAS_ the case.

        It took a couple of millions to start a let's say router company 10 years ago. Now you need 100M to just consider it.

        It took a couple of millions to start a network management company 10 years ago. Now you need 30-50M.

        It took a couple of millions to start an ISP 10 years ago. Now you need something on the order of a few 100M.

        The "several guys in the garage making the next big thing" is the norm in any market in the beginning. HP was started in a garage. Apple was started in a garage. You cannot however start a computer company in a garage today. The Internet is quickly approaching that stage. The number of areas where there are still breakthroughs of garage companies is small and decreasing and this is normal for the development of the market.

      • by unity100 (970058)

        Way to pimp your own post...

        yes. instead, we should type everything over and over again, for any fresh out of college, indoctrinated youngster that comes into slashdot and blabbers some 'ayn rand'.

        But the internet has very low barriers to entry, making it easy for small players like a couple of college kids to go big time (facebook, google, etc).

        internet HAD low barriers to entry, they are higher, and getting higher every day.

        The next big thing could arrive any day. We don't know what it is because we are not there yet.

        yeah, and this is the only phase where capitalism works - a new land rush. its not a stable system. it requires constant land rushes. and after every land rush, it reverts back to feudalism. so, the only ones who are enjoying the system are those on top, and th

        • by icebike (68054)

          Way to pimp your own post...

          yes. instead, we should type everything over and over again, for any fresh out of college, indoctrinated youngster that comes into slashdot and blabbers some 'ayn rand'.

          Fresh out of college. Heh! You weren't even born back then sonny.

    • by Drasil (580067) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:50PM (#34217610)
      Agreed. In a dog-eat-dog world you eventually end up with one very fat dog.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:50PM (#34217616)

      The term "free market" is used to mean "competitive market" and is also used to mean "un-regulated market", despite the fact that few markets are both competitive and un-regulated. When someone uses the term "free market" with out clarifying which they mean, they are either confused, or they are trying to confuse you.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        There is no such thing as an un-regulated market.

        Regulation will come either from a government answering to its voters, or a monopoly corporation answering to its shareholders. No matter how close those two alternatives may actually be, you cannot have a power vacuum and not expect it to be filled.

    • by Z34107 (925136)

      free market is what tends towards monopolies eventually. because there is competition, and nothing to prevent the big players from getting bigger

      "Free market" means the government does nothing other than police fraud. A perfectly competitive market meets these conditions. [wikipedia.org] They overlap, but you can have a "free" market without it being anywhere close to competitive.

      That aside, is the internet a "free" market? It comes pretty damn close. No one government can regulate more than a corner of it, for frau

      • i have exhausted my quota of debating against ayn rand bullshit a few posts ago. i wont be able to reply to you. other than that, all these are 'if this happens, if that happens', invisible hand etc are no different than belief in miracles of our lady of santa maria da rosaria and catholic church.

        its belief.
    • by mosb1000 (710161)

      Sure, but is it necessarily a bad thing? The only problem is that people tend to put too much faith in the one winner and fail to diversify. What you need to do is make sure that you are keeping an eye on these large organizations and hold them accountable for their behavior. And in order to do that, you need to keep and open mind and make sure you have other options than dependance on them. I think maybe I'd better move out to the country and buy a ranch. Get some guns and fortify it in case I need to

    • If all axes were independent--if every product were judged exactly on its merits, and used only and ever for what it was intended for--big players getting bigger until they reached saturation would in fact be the ideal. But the axes aren't, they're oblique, with a lot of nuances that will drag things in the wrong direction.

      Say you were the first person to invent the hammer, and it swept the market. There's no reason to suspect that, being the hammer king, your product would replace screwdrivers, belt-sand

    • When it comes to the internet I think it's all about scale, not necessarily free market. For example, what scale (infrastructure, etc) is required to generate and update a searchable index of the entire WWW? Isn't the main appeal of Facebook the number of users it has?

      Being big is essentially a requirement - my point is whatever entity provides these specific services must be of at least a certain size in order to function or meet a critical mass of sustainability.

    • nothing to prevent the big players from getting bigger,

      This is a really bold statement. To back it up, I mean to really prove your point, you have to completely understand every single dynamic in the market, and how they all work, and verify that nothing prevents the big players from getting bigger.

      Now, I don't claim to know every market dynamic, but I do know there are several that are working against things getting larger. One simple dynamic is the counter-culture, anti-bigness movement. We see it in Converse vs. Nike. Converse has a certain market that Ni

    • by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @08:07PM (#34218446)

      Something I've come to see and realize over the years (yeah I'm getting a little older) is that as long as the market is free, there will always be competition. Always. No matter how big, no matter how dominant a company might seem, there is always some other equally big and successful company - usually in a slightly different market and looking for new opportunities.

      And they are particularly attracted when a market has "fat" in it - which is usually the case when de facto cartels or monopolies have formed. But even in low-margin businesses, it remains the case. People are always scared that some big company is going to take over everything. The free market can seem 'scary' in that regard - but isn't.

      Competition acts a bit slower than we'd usually like, but it always acts.

      I find the article a bit ridiculous actually, and its basic premises are completely false ... the author claims there is monopoly domination, and proceeds to "prove" this by giving a long list of all strong companies that compete with one another, some fiercely. Apple, Google, Microsoft, all fierce competitors, all quite capable of providing similar services to the others. And the very existence of both Google and Facebook ARE textbook cases of how the Internet has allowed one or two 'garage coders' to become billionaires and compete with the other major players practically overnight. Apple, also started in a garage in the first place, was also almost dead very recently, and re-started itself afresh. These companies are proof of how incredibly competitive the industry is, and how easy it is for new small players to get in and grow.

      Facebook had competition even when it launched, from services like MySpace and Friendster, both still going, and would step in in a minute. Google Buzz is another potential competitor to Facebook. They are everywhere. If Facebook disappeared, users would simply migrate to another service.

    • Slashdot Economics (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tabdelgawad (590061)

      Only on slashdot would such economic bullshit (and the socioeconomic bullshit referenced within) get modded +5 insightful and repeated ad-nauseum. Free markets do NOT tend towards monopolies eventually. The vast majority of markets are not monopolies and are in no danger of becoming so, regardless of government intervention or regulation. The evidence on this is so overwhelming I wouldn't know where to begin. In fact, there are so few examples of natural/existing monopolies (where the efficient scale of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        In fact, there are so few examples of natural/existing monopolies (where the efficient scale of production exceeds the size of the market)

        According to libertarian party line, there is no free market today, and there has, in fact, never been a true free market before (when the failure of the markets in 19th century which lead to the Gilded Age is pointed out, they're quick to say that it was still not free). So the low number of monopolies is entirely consistent with the claim that government regulation is required to keep it that way.

        And yes, I'm an economist ... Imposing Libertarian views

        That does not speak well of your credentials as an economist, then. It's like saying "I'm a physicist, promoti

  • imho its all about the money. Look at things now compared to say 5 or even 10 years ago. Most small companies are bought up by a larger competitor, just to make sure they get there hands on whatever tech it is they are developing. Or another company is sued by another for some copyright or patent infringement just to make a buck. No real new 'big' fish are coming to light with something new cool and innovative, if so very slowly, as the big boys try to make sure they stay on top and squash that competition.

  • Could it be that the free market on the Internet actually tends toward monopolies?

    Free markets lead to successful companies. This is the same as in any other industry. Yes, the internet makes it very easy to just 'go with the flow' and follow the leader in a specific category but new companies and new leaders emerge regularly.

    Just like with every other industry, if you sit back and watch it go by you'll see companies come and go. If you want to change things you've got to participate. The next "big thing" is in someone's basement or garage or spare room right now.

    • like what other industry ? the publishing industry ? which is dominated by approx. 4 groups ? the broadcasting ? which is dominated by 4 groups again ? music ? 4 groups ? movie ? 4 groups ? cleaner products ? even less groups ? oil ? even less ?

      ironically most of the above groups in different industries are either the same, or subsidiaries of bigger holdings.

      what was about that 'come and go' bullshit again ? apparently they have come, and not going anywhere.
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:07PM (#34217384) Journal

    Microsoft's Bing, launched last year by a giant with $40 billion in cash on hand, has captured a mere 3.25% of query volume

    Apparently, according to the author, MS's failure in search is purely down to Google's monopoly and completely unrelated to the fact that MS has in the past chosen to skew search results and hence proven itself to be an untrustworthy search provider? The "$40B cash on hand" number is meaningless, because MS hasn't chosen to spend $40B on entering the search market. Perhaps the difference is simply that Google has been able to develop and maintain a better product?

  • How hard? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:08PM (#34217388)

    How hard would it be to go a week without Google? Or, to up the ante, without Facebook, Amazon, Skype, Twitter, Apple, eBay and Google?

    Pretty fucking easy, actually. My God what are we becoming when people think this shit is so important?

    Back in my day (well, ok, my grandfather's) we worried about important shit like steel, or oil. Hell, even telephone wire - it's physical, someone owns it, and they control it completely. Those are monopolies - you're strangled by one provider.

    Facebook? Apple? Amazon? Give me a fucking break. Oh noesies, I can't go read about something cute one of some guy I barely know's brat kids did! Oh no, I have to buy a less expensive version that functions just as well of some gadget I don't need! Uh oh, I have to walk my fat ass to Target or order from one of the other billion internet stores!

    Author makes common mistake of confusing a monopoly with most successful provider of something that one could, if one wanted, get from 20 other places.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by catbutt (469582)
      The issue has little to do with how "necessary" or "important" the service is. Ok, so you can survive without facebook, as can I. So? What does that have to do with anything?

      Regardless, the difference here is that, with the internet vs. "physical things", network effects are in full play. Just as Ma Bell had a network monopoly (who's going to sign up for Joe's Phone Company when they can't call anyone because everyone else is on the Bell System?), and Microsoft had/has a certain sort of monopoly (who
    • by gutnor (872759)
      Wait until the day after the day net neutrality has gone away and the only way to access the internet at a comfortable speed will be using the service of those monopolies.

      In the meanwhile, once Microsoft abandon Bing - what will index the internet, apart from Google ? Internet is growing fast, and it takes colossal amount of money to index a fraction of it. And that is without Google trying to something evil about its monopoly: exclusive indexing in exchange for better ads rate (I know a few companies tha

    • How hard would it be to go a week without Google? Or, to up the ante, without Facebook, Amazon, Skype, Twitter, Apple, eBay and Google?

      Pretty fucking easy, actually. My God what are we becoming when people think this shit is so important?

      Some of us own or work for businesses that would not exist if it weren't for those services. Here's one example:

      I know a guy who works as a consultant, he's the "guru" companies bring in when they realize that treating all of their employees like "cogs on a wheel" means they don't have any experts who understand both the minutiae and the big picture. He swears that over the last decade the kind of work he actually does has turned into excessive use of google-fu. Half the time he's looking up stuff with g

    • by S77IM (1371931)

      Author makes common mistake of confusing a monopoly with most successful provider of something that one could, if one wanted, get from 20 other places.

      You (and many of the other posters on this thread) have missed a key point:
      The value of a network is proportional to the number of people using it.

      This is easiest to see in the case of sites like Facebook. Sure, you could use a competitor, but if none of your friends are on it, what would be the point? If your peeps do all their communication through Facebook, and you want to get their updates, you need to use the Facebook. It's less clear-cut with sites like Google. I mean, you could use Bing for searc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kaladorn (514293)

      Whereas I agree we can survive without social networking and entertainment products, I'm not sure Internet search is so easily dispensed with.

      Certainly, my job as a software developer would become approximately 5x more inefficient - the Internet is a treasure trove of problem solutions and basic and advanced reference information that is easily located.

      In the old days (which I still remember), I'd have to order (often sight unseen) a bunch of books and hope they had the reference material I needed in them a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SEE (7681)

        Yahoo!, Bing, Ask, etc. are all still out there. Not quite as good as Google, but serviceable. The only way Google can keep its market share is by continuing to be better, because it's trivial to switch. There's no monopoly lock-in.

  • Google and Amazon are possible because of a large crowd.
    Facebook and Twitter and eBay don't work without a large existing crowd.
    So you pick a site which already has a large crowd, thus creating a monopoly.

  • by copponex (13876) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:20PM (#34217454) Homepage

    Our current market economy depends on finite supply, and with limited production capacity per person in order to employ people and pay them wages so they can also be consumers. As automation and robotics take over the means of production, only societies that can cope with overproduction with more socially shared resources will be able to thrive.

    In other words, China and Europe will continue to eat our lunch.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      Excuse me? China (and to a very lesser extent Europe, you probably mean mostly Germany) are 'eating' your lunch because the gov't created monopolies destroyed competition in USA by using gov't as means to destroy free market and to get themselves all the subsidies and regulations that keep out the new startups, so then once the economy became global the monopolies could easily outsource the labor to cheaper locations.

      But if the market in US was actually free and gov't didn't destroy the liberties in it: did

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2010 @07:21PM (#34218066)

        wow. Even by the (frankly bizarre) standards of the US that's a fairly extreme viewpoint. Whilst I don't want to feed the (very dedicated) troll too much, a few points:

        1. You seem to think that the reason that China is producing is lack of government interference. Firstly that is simply not true as many industries in China are effectively nationalised. Secondly, some level of government regulation is generally recognised as a Good Thing, to try and reduce excessive pollution and other externalities. Growing the economy has to be balanced with keeping your cities inhabitable. Judging by the air quality in many big Chinese cities, some might say they haven't got the balance right yet.

        2. The idea that if the government would only stop interfering then everything would be great is demonstrably wrong. For one thing, you can look at countries where there is little to no governance (Yemen for example) to see that things are far from great. Whilst less government interference can indeed lead to great gains for some, the experience has too often been that the majority of people experience something very different. The industrial revolution brought great gains, but in the short term the life expectancy of the UK dropped. Yearning to return to a Dickensian age where great industrialists make lots of money whilst the majority live in grinding poverty seems somewhat perverse.

        3. Monopolies have tended to spring up around many new industries: railways, Bell telephone, Standard Oil etc. By and large these have started as unregulated businesses, but economies of scale have tended to benefit the largest companies. This then leads to a small number of companies dominating the field. Often it has been up to governments to step in and break up companies (Bell, Standard), and is why competition commissions have been set up to try and maintain a competitive market by breaking up cartels.

        4. You seem to have a pet peeve about income tax. I realise this is a matter of personal conviction, but one of the jobs of government is to try and correct what we (the people / voters) perceive as inequalities or injustices in the (mainly) free market system. Whilst you might be perfectly happy with huge inequalities, I think most people prefer a world in which there was some sort of safety net, and in which losing your job doesn't mean living on the street. If only for the selfish reason that those on benefits/welfare are probably less likely to rob you out of desperation.

    • by khallow (566160)

      Our current market economy depends on finite supply, and with limited production capacity per person in order to employ people and pay them wages so they can also be consumers. As automation and robotics take over the means of production, only societies that can cope with overproduction with more socially shared resources will be able to thrive.

      That hasn't been true since the Industrial Age. Production capability has increased vastly since the 17th Century.

      In other words, China and Europe will continue to eat our lunch.

      Why? They don't appear to me to better "cope with overproduction with more socially shared resources". Instead, the US appears to be screwing the pooch with a rapidly growing economic parasitism.

      • by copponex (13876)

        ...only societies that can cope with overproduction with more socially shared resources will be able to thrive.

        That hasn't been true since the Industrial Age. Production capability has increased vastly since the 17th Century.

        Take a look at this graph [blogspot.com]. Your assumptions are incorrect.

        In other words, China and Europe will continue to eat our lunch.

        Why? They don't appear to me to better "cope with overproduction with more socially shared resources". Instead, the US appears to be screwing the pooch with a rapidly growing economic parasitism.

        Nationalized infrastructure, like health care, roads, rail, energy production, research and development, and education are the very definition of socially shared resources. It's accomplished in different ways -- heavy regulation or direct governmental control -- but the effect is similar.

        Whereas Americans are for some reason allergic to throwing in with the rest of their citizens, the rest of industrialized society has accepted shared risk as a benef

  • by siddesu (698447) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:22PM (#34217462)

    This article is full of sensationalist bullshit.

    Facebook, Amazon, Skype, Twitter, Apple, eBay and Google

    Yes, one can do comfortably without all these. I don't shop at Amazon, instead, I shop at several other places, which vigorously compete with Amazon.

    I've never used online auction site, and still manage to buy shit online cheaply.

    I check my facebook account once a week if that, and I still manage.

    I switch between several search engines, and I think they've gone more or less on par.

    Twitter and Apple? Monopolies? Lolwut.

    It seems the author isn't very well versed in economics and uses words like "monopoly" and "free market" colloquially.

    Also, he has his bearings wrong. The only thing that allows any kind of "monopoly" in information is the government and its fucked up system of copyright and related rights, which is being tended by lawyers who are probably students of the author in the quagmire of "Intellectual property". Now, this is the REAL danger, but he somehow misses it altogether.

    Not impressive at all.

    Maybe the professor should concentrate on his studies in law, and not venture with superficial sensationalism in areas he doesn't know much about -- like economics -- before learning the basics.

  • Surprise surprise - capitalism on the internet is largely about companies dominated by the network effect. It is interesting, though, that while many folks thought the internet would lead to a broader spectrum of companies given that start up/fixed costs are so low, the network effect has tended to consolidate power to a very small number of winners.

    I think the overall effect on capitalism itself will be very interesting. Capitalism was always about winners and losers, but previously you could have a lot mo

  • This whole premise is flawed a true monopoly of information in the traditional sense is not really happening on the Internet as far as I can tell. Sure the vast majority of people see Facebook as the Ineternet and spend entirely too much time on there posting inane updates, doing inane quizzes and playing terrible web games. However that does not stop Slashdot, Reddit or Penny Arcade or xckcd or hack a day or cnczone from existng and doing just fine for people that want or have a thought rattling around bet

  • by forgottenusername (1495209) on Saturday November 13, 2010 @05:46PM (#34217596)

    > Forgoing Google and Amazon is just
    > inconvenient; forgoing Facebook or Twitter
    > means giving up whole categories of activity.

    I don't use facebook or twitter, but use google on a daily basis & amazon on a weekly basis.

    Anyone that claims to not be able to live without twitter/facebook is not someone I wanna hang out with regularly. Or read what they have to say about tech :P

  • Well, duh! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bradley13 (1118935)

    "Could it be that the free market ... actually tends toward monopolies?"

    That's economics 101: economy of scale means that a pure free market tends to monopoly. Why anyone should expect the Internet to be different escapes me. The usual argument is that the role of the government in a free market economy is to provide regulation to limit this tendency: first, by preventing the abuse of the monopoly (to prevent competition, or to take over related fields), and second, by limiting the maximum size of compani

  • Google is a monopoly as long as the alternatives suck.

    Seriously.

    I have yet to see Bing, Yahoo, Altavista, Webcrawler, Lycos, etc, bring their products up to speed to offer better alternatives to Google's offerings.

    There is nothing stopping Microsoft making Bing a successful alternative to Google except maybe the poor algorithms they use.

    Oh yeah, and where are my advanced search functions, Bing?

    --
    BMO

    • The problem is that Bing is too much focused on the average user. What google does right is that they are appealing to techies, and this gives them all sorts of extra benefits that MS is not getting.

  • Tim Wu has a piece up at the Wall Street Journal

    They speak of hating monopolies, yet that's what Murdoch wants to be.

  • TFA refers to big monopolies that are familiar to us all, but there are millions of small monopolies that also drive business.

    The USPTO gives monopolies to businesses and individuals in the form of Patents, Trademarks and copyright.

    Exclusive rights to something of value confer power to the owner. This is the core strength of all the big monopolies mentioned.

    Your local shoe repair shop will never have power because it owns no IP or other exclusive rights.

    Your local gas station is in the same situation except

  • The premise seems to be that because there is a dominant player in a market, that we have a "monopoly". Here's the problem. None of the companies mentioned in the article have a monopoly on the market that they dominate. That's because competition still exists and there are alternatives for each of the businesses mentioned. Here's my take. If we applied the same low standard to a dozen randomly chosen markets in the world, we're going to find a few that happen to be dominated by a single business. In other

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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