Thursday, April 17, 2008

MicroHoo: Yahoo and Google Play House | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD

"As someone who has been a longtime critic of Microsoft’s historically thuggish tendencies, BoomTown finds it a little hard to believe that Yahoo and Google think that they can get away with any kind of significant ad search outsourcing deal that would move the needle at Yahoo and, I guess, pressgang the software giant into making a higher bid in its quest to acquire it."


I can’t make predictions regarding rational behavior from our government, but as a consumer I can hardly see any reason for concern about the actions of Yahoo or Google with regard to monopoly power.

We do not have a monopoly on computers, even though there are some big players like Dell and Apple. We do not have a monopoly on home electronics, even though Sony, Panasonic, Phillips and others sell a lot of TV sets.

There are more services and media outlets on the Internet than the average consumer can even keep up with and I’ve yet to meet anyone who thought they had been victimized by any of the thousands (at least) of free web services out there.

Changing from one search engine to another is only as hard as adding a bookmark to your web browser, or changing your “home” page or (in some browsers) another setting specifically for search.

Contrast that with a consumer switching from the operating system or word processor, which may well be the only OS or word processor they have ever used (given the youth of PC technology). The average consumer sees such a change as comparable not to getting a new car, but rather as learning to fly the space shuttle rather than driving.

Even once you make such a long-term Windows (or Apple for that matter) user realize that 90 percent or more of what they are doing these days is through their web browser I find that they still cling to the mostly invisible operating system that gets them there. In answer to the question “How do I get rid of all these pop-up ads that I get every time I open a web page?” almost any answer you give is more acceptable than the simplest “stop using Windows” even if the alternatives cost hundreds of dollars and involve many hours of lost productivity and multiple trips back to a retail store.

Even if in the process a few more monopolies are spun off (though I doubt that will be the case), ridding ourselves of the single monopoly that continues to plague our computer related activities (even if we are only innocent bystanders having to stop what we are doing to help friends and family) will be well worth it.

I can only hope the Justice Department sees it this way and doesn’t end up helping the harmful existing monopoly in a misguided effort to stop what may or may not turn out to be a future monopoly.

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