Big != Monopoly

Big != Monopoly

One word that gets thrown around a lot any time a company gets big is "monopoly".  "Google is a search monopoly!"  "Amazon has a monopoly on eBooks!"  And if you even remember this being an issue "The merger of Sirius and XM Radio will result in a satellite radio monopoly".  From a layman's perspective, though, these are also all false.

One key part of being a monopoly is restricting new entrants.  We have great examples of monopolies all over the country.  We call them cable and telephone companies.  You have less choices for cable tv and broadband because locally government mandated monopolies prevent new companies. 

Does Google have a monopoly on search?  Well, it definitely has the largest market share for search engine websites.  However that is an awfully limited view.  Can people get information from other sources?  Of course: Bing, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc.  What stops people from using those other sources?  Nothing.  In fact, Bing is the default search engine on the default browser on the largest desktop OS there is.  

In the mobile world, Google does dominate total searches, but Apple is probably one or two OS revisions away from replacing Google with Bing.  Microsoft has the ability to get that deal done.  On Android devices, you don't have to use Google.  Google does come pre-installed on Google certified devices, but you can change the default search provider, or use Bing apps.  There is no restriction.

What really happened is that Google put out a search engine product that was so much better than everyone else, that people started using Google in droves.  Yahoo was asleep at the wheel, and Microsoft was a pretty late entry.  If the user is not locked in, if new companies are not prevented from entering the market by Google, if there is nothing restricting competition, how is there a monopoly?  How do you legislate people's choices?  

Does Amazon have a monopoly with eBooks?  This question was asked by a lot of Apple fanatics after Apple was caught for collusion.  There is no doubt that Amazon is killing it with eBooks compared to the competition.  However, Apple is not a small startup trying to make their way through the market.  iBooks is installed on hundreds of millions of devices.  Why is Kindle winning?  Because it's better. People could choose to use iBooks (ability to move books between systems like iBooks and Kindle is not Amazon's doing) on their iDevices, but they don't.  On the Android side, Play Books is pretty good, but it's not popular.  Amazon is also the only company willing to spend the time and money to develop an e-ink reader that works better for reading than a glass screen.  Again, no restriction for competition, etc, so I don't see how this is a monopoly.

The last example I'm going to bring up is the Sirius/XM Radio merger.  At the time, this seemed like a big deal.  For a while, there was competition between the two services.  What would happen if there was only one?  Well, as we know, while satellite radio is a success, it has plenty of competition from non-satellite companies.  It still competes with terrestrial radio, and mobile music services proliferating on top of widely available high speed wireless.  It seems ridiculous in hindsight to have been concerned about a monopoly.

Again, big != monopoly.  Success != monopoly.  We have real monopolies in this country, so let's deal with them.  The Google's, the Amazon's and even the Apple's are all large successful companies who do not have the power to restrict new players or prevent changing landscapes.  I worry a lot more about the cable company doing a crappy job of providing me internet to the point where I can't even get online to make a search engine choice, than I do about the search engine itself.

Again, all from the perspective, a layman, who feels he has choice between all these companies.

#spb  

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This project got a lot of attention, but it’s probably dead on arrival.  As this article points out,…

This project got a lot of attention, but it's probably dead on arrival.  As this article points out, there is so much more available space that is not being used for solar power that is also easier to maintain and use.  Roads take immense abuse, and textured glass may work great in parking lots, but it would be terrible for a lot of roads.  What about in places where it snows a lot?  What happens overnight ?  Since there is no power from the sun, how would the roads melt the ice?  Are we going to draw power from the rest of the grid to heat roads?  You can't plow on these roads, and salt would be awful.

Take your Solar Roadway investment and put it on to some panels for your roof.  Makes a lot more sense.

#solar #spb  

Why the Solar Roadways Project on Indiegogo is Actually Really Silly – Equities.com Global Financial Community
The project for solar roadways currently on Indiegogo is garnering a lot of attention. Which is strange, because it’s a totally impractical idea.

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Amazon Did Not Gut ComiXology

Amazon Did Not Gut ComiXology

Despite what TC claims, Amazon is not gutting the ComiXology app.  Apple's policies are, if you feel the need to generate that kind of headline.  It makes sense for Apple (or Google) to take a chunk of the of in-app purchases when done through the Apple system.  They're doing all the working, taking all the risk etc.  It makes perfect sense for most apps and most companies.

The problem is, on the Apple side anyway, that companies should be allowed to take on that risk if they choose to.  Apple doesn't allow that under the claim that it's a better experience for users.  However, it's really only about collecting money for Apple's bottom line.  They have every right to do this, but let's acknowledge who's doing the gutting.

#spb   

Amazon Guts The ComiXology App With Removal Of In-App Purchases, Users Not Happy | TechCrunch
Amazon has begun the Amazonification of recent acquisition ComiXology, by killing in-app purchases within the popular “Comics” by ComiXology app. This..

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The Buried Video Games Myth Confirmed!

The Buried Video Games Myth Confirmed!

Almost every computing history book I've ever read mentions Atari burying unsold cartridges in the desert, and now we have them! #spb  

Construction workers unearth legendary cache of Atari games in New Mexico desert
According to urban legend, a massive stockpile of Atari gear — including truckloads of the notoriously awful game E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — has laid buried in a New Mexico landfill for over…

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What If Google+ Did Go Away?

What If Google+ Did Go Away?

With the change in leadership, lazy and sloppy tech blogs began the drumbeat that G+ is on the way out.  No real evidence has been provided, and I've been a little taken aback by the lack of professionalism I've seen.  But enough about that.

If G+ went way tomorrow what would change?  Honestly, not much for me.  That's not an indictment of G+ it's an indictment of all social media for not being all that important.  I'd have to change how I post things, that's about it.  All indications that Google+ Photos and Hangouts aren't going anywhere and those are my favorite bits.  Life would move on and I could let it go.

I wish more people could let things go.   Few people will live the richest life they can by holding on to grudges, pining for for the past, or re-fighting the same tired battles.  Do something new, myself included.

#spb  

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