It always seems to go back to some sort of privacy and/or surfacing web data that someone else doesn't want surfaced. I don't know if there is an easy answer here.
But, quite seriously, I think we have a massive problem on our hands if even people who frequent hacker news just aren't aware of the concepts of standards and interoperability anymore, that a monopoly seems to be perceived as the only way to achieve integration at the user experience level.
Want to have more than one TV channel with a common user interface? Obviously, all TV channels need to be owned by one company!
Want to have more than one appliance with a common electricity supply infrastructure? Obviously, all appliances need to be provided by the one electricity supplier!
Want to have more than one newspaper in the same language and alphabet? Obviously, all newspapers and their common language and alphabet need to be owned by one company!
Want people all around the planet to be able to talk to each other remotely? Obviously, all telephones and telephone networks need to be owned and operated by one company!
I'd really like to understand how this thinking managed to take hold, given that it seems to be so obviously fallacious to me.
Really I want a decentralised system where I have my cake and eat it too, with a single mechanism for accessing my content while also not giving a single company control over and profit from the entire industry.
Oh, and this hypothetical decentralised system has to, well, not completely suck. Which means it's never going to happen.
It's been a long time since the USA Justice Department went after a company for having a vertical monopoly, but this is a reminder of why vertical monopolies can inhibit innovation, just as much as horizontal ones.
But, even though you make a good point, I disagree in the sense that I would like to see other services like Vimeo gain market share to balance things out. Trouble is, it is difficult for other services to compete with ‘free.’
YouTube is a general video service.
Twitch isn't superior.
However if you search "Google Search Alternatives" on Google, it displays a large, pronounced box at the top, declaring "Here are 12 alternatives to escape your reliance on Google for all things search."
Microsoft did the same when they were investigated.
At the risk of sounding like a libertarian, I'm of the mind that monopolies aren't inherently bad until they start buying politicians and bills that reinforce their hold on the market.
Tesla is huge for electric-only car companies, but I don't hear the average person screaming that they should be shut down in states where they are trying to bypass dealership-protectionist state laws. In fact, there are anecdotes of people buying Teslas used from other states because they (aren't|weren't) available new in some states.
On the flip side, Tesla is also treated a lot better than smaller competitors, because its size enables it to play states off against each other:
Yeah but is Tesla a tiny car company or a monopoly electric car company?
Have they really, though? I mean, a Maserati is also priced very highly. Certainly much higher than what is "truly competitive" for a luxury vehicle. But I don't think anyone would call them a monopoly. Likewise, Tesla is selling a unique product within a class, and some people are willing to pay more for that product. In other words, they have a product with a competitive advantage, and that allows them to price higher than the competition. This is healthy and normal elastic demand. I mean, price was a big reason the Model 3 presold in a week about three times the entire Model S volume.
I have no real issue with Tesla from a competitive perspective. I'm simply making two fairly seperate points, that monopolies are always bad, and Tesla has accrued many more benefits from the state than penalties, on account of its size.
I used to think we should have a form of progressive taxation based on market power. Incent, but do not mandate, smaller firms. Tax anticompetitive potential to siphon rents.
I still like the theory but now worry it would be unmanageable because market determination is an unsolved problem.
Some companies are a "monopoly" in a small sector, but there are substitute products which are close enough to provide market-like forces. Don't want to pay for a Tesla? Buy an internal-combustion engine car, a gas-electric hybrid car, pay a premium for a Fisker Kharma, get one of the less desirable tiny electrics from any one of a dozen tiny-production manufacturers, or simply buy a Tesla used.
If Tesla was a monopoly, they could (would?) charge far more now than they are for the early delivery units (time-price discrimination). As far as I can tell, they have biased early delivery Model 3 cars to premium features, but they are charging the same price in delivery month 1 than delivery month 3.
> If that makes you sound like a libertarian it speaks poorly to their general economic literacy.
I'm reasonably well versed on the basics of economics (both classical and behavioral). "Libertarian" comes with a connotation, which I don't prefer to adopt. Some of it comes from Ayn Rand acolytes, some from the ignorance/naiveté of AnCaps (although I admit that there's enough ignorance on all sides of economics).
But more extreme libertarians tend to think that the market will correct itself faster and better than any government intervention, so "monopolies don't exist for long in free-market conditions" (although this assumes perfect information transparency, which never has and never will exist).
> On the flip side, Tesla is also treated a lot better than smaller competitors, because its size enables it to play states off against each other
Every big company that has already raised the funds (or promise of funds) can get similar attention and courting when shopping for a cite for jobs. It's not unique to Tesla, or even large companies:
* Amazon is shopping with HQ2 to major metro areas
* Google Fiber had cities put together competitive bids, including cutting red tape and cheap access to utility poles
* Wisconsin just offered a *massive* tax discount package to woo FoxConn to build a factory in the US
* Almost *every* auto manufacturer gets courted by different states to build plants (incl. Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, etc) in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama
* Boeing gets many bids on their plants and Airbus recently got similar incentives for building a plant in Alabama
* The Kansas Cities (two adjacent cities in two states) have long been at economic war, offering unsustainable tax incentives to keep companies from "crossing the street" into another tax jurisdiction
* Video Effects ("VFX") is in a tax-free treadmill
It's pretty hard to measure behavior but size is easier to measure. As as Tesla goes they are still a very small company compared to their competition so I don't think there is any need to think about their market power and suppression of competition.
It all depends how you slice and dice, which is the flexibility and the unjust part of anticompetitive lawsuits.
Did MS have a "monopoly" on browsers just by bundling IE with Windows? How much effort would it take for consumers to install Mozilla or Opera or AOL?
Does Apple have a monopoly on "apps"? You can always buy an Android to avoid an iPhone, a Surface to avoid an iPad, a Zune to avoid an iPod (oh, wait...). You can argue that Apple has a monopoly on the Apple iTunes/App stores, but is it an honest argument if you look at the wider industry?
I would argue that size still doesn't mean anything. Apple is huge but they got there because consumers willingly bought their products. There was no geographical monopoly (as utilities have), no IP monopoly (iPod competed with Zune, MBP with a lot of WinTel laptops, iPad with Surface, iPhone with any number of feature Phones, BlackBerries, and later Android), and they didn't pay legislators to build walls that benefitted Apple.
Does Google deserve to be sued for anticompetitive behavior? Perhaps. Does Google deserve to be sued just because it's large? No.
1. Apple -- approaching a one trillion dollar market cap was almost bankrupt 20 years ago.
2. Amazon -- a little spunky online book seller
3 Google - a little research project that wasn't even incorporated
4 Facebook -- wouldn't exist for 7 years.
As hard as MS tried, they weren't able to kill competition.
Sadly I can't disprove this fallacy because I don't have a counterfactual world to show you.
But I would argue that if you look at post-DOJ Microsoft, that also happened to be the same time that:
* Microsoft was rudderless
* the internet became the source of lots of extremely cheap software (including SaaS),
* Windows software quality gave us gifts like Conficker
* Microsoft was busy prosecuting software pirates and burdoning legit users with licensing keys
* Microsoft lost out on smart phones, tablets, cloud services, etc which grew *far* faster than desktop software
* OS X became a more compelling alternative to Windows for home/business users
* Linux continued to eat Windows server market share
Did the DOJ prevent Microsoft from trying to compete at search - where Google dominates. No, MS has poured billions in Bing.
MS didn't try to compete in social or ecommerce.
Should we apply the same to homicides? Unless you kill everyone with no survivors left, you didn't kill anyone?
Why do we want or even trust government to decide for us that a company is too big and needs to be smaller or that a company should conducts it business in the way that the government wants it to. As long as a company isn't somehow forcing me to use it services, I'm free to go elsewhere.
If you don't like Google don't use it. The fact that you desire something from Google that it isn't giving you (searching with more privacy, better free email service, whatever) doesn't give you some sort of moral claim against the company.
The public can vote for other companies by buying from or using them. As a last resort, start a new company and run it the way you want.
You might want to educate yourself on an economic concept called network effects:
> The fact that you desire something from Google that it isn't giving you (searching with more privacy, better free email service, whatever) doesn't give you some sort of moral claim against the company.
Doesn't that depend on what it is that you expect and which role Google (or any other company or person) plays in withholding whatever it is that you do expect from you?
> The public can vote for other companies by buying from or using them.
Well, yes, it can, and one way to implement that is by organizing a government that enforces it, no?
If your argument is that people can do so through independent individual decisions: Well, to some degree they can, but even then I don't see why they necessarily should? If Google, say, can organize a ton of people to work unified towards its goals, why shouldn't the public at large do the same?
But I guess more importantly: To a large degree, you actually can't. Where network effects or scaling efficiencies are involved, there are many situations in which it would be a huge sacrifice with extremely high risk to individually decide against the (quasi-)monopoly, even though overall society would be better off if many people did. In such situations, coordination between actors is required to achieve the better outcome for everyone. That is a role that government can play: To enable coordination between members of a public in order to reach the critical mass that is necessary to move from a (quasi-)monopolistic equilibrium to the overall better equilibrium of multiple competing offers.
Should we get rid of IP laws then? Isn't copyright a government granted monopoly?
In industries where huge capital costs are the barrier to entry, the market is not open or free, and requires regulation.
What happens when people don't know they're using Google?
I have an Android phone and one thing that is bugging me is how the default browser on the bottom "toolbar" is in fact named "Internet". This may be fine for techies like you and me, but I'm concerned for the older folk who may have difficulty with technology or non-techies. In this case, if one just went with the defaults, one wouldn't even know you were using a Google-built browser.
Remember that old story back when Internet Explorer was dominating the market, and most people surveyed couldn't tell the difference between the web and a web browser? They pointed to the "e" browser logo and said, "That's the internet!"
This is a nasty pattern in tech these days. On my laptop which carries Windows 10, the programs aren't named in such a way to identify that they are Microsoft programs . You see an email client named "Mail" and a map service named "Maps". No indication that they are Microsoft Mail or Microsoft (Bing) Maps.
Also, on Windows 10 when you log in you are presented with a "photo of the day". If you click on any of the links on that image, the URLs will be opened in Microsoft Edge, and any searches are performed using Bing, regardless if you set your default browser to something else!
I'm assuming that you're using a Samsung phone, in which case "Internet" is the Samsung browser, not Google's Chrome. http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/apps/samsung-internet/
(But I think you made your point;)
How did that whole trying to use their monopoly to dominate the market work out for Microsoft in hindsight?
There was time that AOL was the number one ISP and MySpace was the number one social media platform.
You haven't addressed the core of my previous comment though, regarding how big tech companies today are obscuring their branding to mislead (in my opinion) users to be completely unaware they are even using a (insert big tech company name here) product. The part of my comment you quoted wasn't me trying to talk about the rise and fall of Internet Explorer's monopoly. Rather, it was me pointing out what I believe to be a nasty dark pattern of tech today, where tech companies are building black-box products.
Unbundling the browser didn't help the other browser manufacturers.
Mississippi's AG, Jim Hood vs Google: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/01/mississippi-ag-j...
Are you suggesting that, if this man had a secret reason for going after Google, and that reason was that it was part of his plan to boost his popularity and name recognition with local conservatives by shitting on "liberal" companies in order to boost his chances of winning a seat in the Senate, it would somehow not count as an "ulterior motive"?
Mind you, I'm not saying that this is the case. Maybe he's just going after a big company for a good reason. But your suggestion that an ulterior motive could not even theoretical exist because he's not engaged in commerce seems ridiculous.
Having served in public office for about ten months, Hawley has very little record as a public official. He was a law professor before running for this office. Trying to read the fact that he's a Republican as some sort of secret clue to his motives is foolish.
I, for one, was delighted to be able to vote for an AG candidate who isn't a former prosecutor. Locking up hundreds or thousands of people for victimless fake crimes is toxic to one's soul, and usually we get a "choice" between two such corrupted sociopaths for this office. Time will tell if Hawley will be tempted down that awful path, but the fact that his first "big" initiative has nothing to do with taking revenge on pitiful unfortunates as a proxy for old people's frustration with the general direction of societal change is a good thing.
I agree that going after big companies is better than just being "tough on crime" and trying to get conviction numbers as high as possible regardless of harm. And I have no idea whether this particular charge is fair or not. I wouldn't normally read into his political leanings as automatically implying motive, but they're relevant here given that Hawley just announced his run for US Senate a few weeks ago and now has followed up on that by going after a company that is generally thought of as being on the Left.
> My definition (of ulterior motive) doesn’t require a commercial interest.
But it's nice to see our state in the news for a good purpose.
In total, speed traps in Germany are estimated to bring in billions of euros in revenue (https://www.welt.de/motor/article13877289/Das-Milliardengesc...). There are many agencies which can place speed traps and profit - federal, country, county and city cops, in addition to city personnel and sometimes even private companies.
They are not a good funding source, but a very consistent one once you find the right spots to milk people.
What you didn't mention is that (since removed) 15 M€ speeding trap was located on a downhill stretch with a high risk of traffic jams and not only placed for revenue.
German speeding fines are minuscule in international comparison. Just try "casually speeding" 20 km/h in any neighboring country.
Speeding is a German national sport leading to a vicious circle of decreasing limits even further.
No, it's two entities at the least in urban areas: the police and the municipality.
> German speeding fines are minuscule in international comparison.
Yes, which makes people speed in higher amounts and only because of this the system of traps bringing in 15M+€ actually works - yes you get the occasional dumb moron with 50+ km/h, but the most part is netted by the small fish speeding 10-20 km/h.
The United States has lagged behind Europe in pursuing antitrust cases against tech giants
This narrative is silly. The EU goes after "tech giants" partly because they are foreign, the US doesn't have that incentive.
Because media attention and it plays well with the current Missouri AG's base. e.g. pseudo-libertarian, anti-big brother, technology, coast-elites, etc.
There are no statutes in Missouri that regulate in any meaningful way the use of consumer data by technology companies. Also, actual law enforcement or regulatory investigations are rarely proceeded with press releases to the effect of "we are going to investigate you", so I would imagine this doesn't go further than said press release and Google spending some money at one of Missouri's larger law firms.
2) Why Missouri? How come a republican is doing this?
Current AG  is the likely republican nominee for the Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill. It will likely be an extraordinarily expensive and contested race with tons of money and resources flowing into the election from across the country. Despite winning statewide office in the Missouri Trump-landslide, current AG is relatively unknown. I imagine he will be using his office to make a name for himself in the coming months. (I'm not saying that is any different than his predecessors, both democrat and republican -- both have used the office as a political soapbox to propel them to their next office.)
It's just that the US has become extremely lax in its anti-trust stance.
Interestingly, a lot of stuff that just “works” in America is dangerous when exported abroad. This is a strange sociological concept I only encountered recently, but one example is that the American conception of “fame”, dating back to PT Barnum‘s days, was an impetus for fascism in America. So something that’s “culturally safe” in the US due to our history and institutions can be dangerous when exported abroad.
For more information, check out the book “The Frenzy of Renown”.
The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History https://www.amazon.com/dp/0679776303/
Really? It went after AT&T before and split it up and it wasn't foreign. How do you see the "foreign" part being significant here?
Though it would be interesting to think about Google pulling out of Missouri saying "Ok, you want to sue us? Fine no Google presence there" as soon as it detects an accounts or user connecting from there it returns an error and that's that. Wonder if that is possible?
what's the other part?
Google Net Profit Last 4 Qs: $63 Billion
Google can literally fund the state of Missouri indefinately. How does Missouri make this a fair fight?
The power of government. Missouri can definitely pay for quite a few attorneys (maybe do a tobacco litigation type deal) but the danger is that other states will join in. Having taken on Google can be quite a thing on your resume as you seek higher office...who will resist it?
I assume that they are safeguards: the governor might be able to intervene if an AG goes nuts, the courts etc etc.