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The software ecosystem

In the Eric Sink thread, Just Sir made some excellent replies:
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"If both Joel and Eric are tasting the sand because of big MS stepping into their playground... Kick'em while they're down? Nothing special here. Just another day at the office.

Come on people. This isn't playtime. It's business."

I'm not going to disrespect Joel or Eric by feeling sorry for them. They'll be on their feet, I'm sure. But let's get real here. Instead of all ohah'ing big bad Microsoft, you think another "ecosystem" is going to be any less "red in tooth and claw"?
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Great stuff.  There may be mushrooms and moss growing on the north sides of the tree, but at the end of the day bears eat the bunnies.

I mean, it doesn't stop there, right? You compete within your organization as your organization simultaneously competes with your market's competition.  Red tooth and claw.

So, just for entertainment value (like watching Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom") what does your ecosystem look like?  Do fuzzy bunnies ever turn carnivore?  Do mice eat cats? Do lions eat their young? Do bears crap in the woods?

hoser
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The problem with a 'pure' free market is that it tends to lead to monopolistic behavior.  Once that behavior happens, you no longer have a free market.

That's why we have rules about this stuff.  We DON'T have a 'pure' free market.  Clearly, Microsoft has a monopoly on the Windows OS.  It is their product, they deserve income off of selling it.  (They don't have a monopoly on ALL OS's, just Windows.)

It is when they use their monopoly on Windows to engage in anti-competitive practicies that they run afoul of the law.  Merely having the monopoly is not against the law.

Now, it sounds like Microsoft is developing Yet Another Source Code Control System, and diss-ing their tool vendors in the process.  I think the jury is out on whether their new SCCS will succeed, or will put their tool vendors out of business.  It is the cavalier "we're going to do this whether you care or not" attitude that Eric complained about.

However -- saying that our economy is a 'free market', and that the nastiest carnivore is the one that wins, and the one that SHOULD win -- that's simply not true.  If it were true, I don't think you would like the results.

AllanL5
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

quote: "Merely having the monopoly is not against the law."

Ummm... no, I'm pretty sure it is.  The Sherman act  "Made it illegal to create, or attempt to create, a monopoly. By declaring any combinations that were a 'conspiracy in restraint of trade' illegal. This law was used by the courts and corporate lawyers to grant injunctions against union organization."

True, it's the wielding of monopoly that causes complaints, and that eventually can bring about prosecution.

horace
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Well, that wasn't really what I had in mind.  I wanted a carnage report.  Some good bloody wild dingos eating babies in the wild.

hoser
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"Clearly, Microsoft has a monopoly on the Windows OS."

I guess that's a fun way of saying Windows is Microsoft's property.  So I guess I have a "monopoly" on my tennis shoes.  And on my wife too?  Oh, she won't like to hear that.

"However -- saying that our economy is a 'free market', and that the nastiest carnivore is the one that wins, and the one that SHOULD win -- that's simply not true."

Many of us have made a career on the opportunities made possible by MS.  Millions of bussiness people use their software every day.  Is all of this *prospering* a taste of the horrible nastiness you're predicting?

MS never put a gun to anyone's head to bundle this way and not that way ... if someone didn't like their terms, they've never had to buy their product.

Brad
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Being a monopoly is not illegal in the US.  Abusing a monopoly position is what's against the law.  Heck, the goal of _every_ for-profit company is to become a monopoly eventually.  It all depends how you define the market, as was made clear during the Windows/IE antitrust suit.

Don't you think Oracle or IBM would like to sell every database just as well as Microsoft would?  C'mon.  The pursuit of market power is inherently part of capitalism, whether it's good or bad.

And for the record, the anti-trust laws were setup because larger, more efficient producers were driving the smaller guys out of business because they sold their product at _lower_ prices.  It wasn't that consumers were being "gouged."

Jeremy
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"And for the record, the anti-trust laws were setup because larger, more efficient producers were driving the smaller guys out of business because they sold their product at _lower_ prices. "

Sorry, but this is absolute nonsense. Anti-trust laws were setup because monopolies have the power to circumvent the normal competitive, efficient economy, effectively squashing any hope of real competition that would bring the consumer value. AT&T wasn't a "larger, more efficient producer", they were a money rich, inefficient, bloated organization charging ridiculous sums, but it was impossible for upstarts to challenge them and bring real competition to the table.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

BTW, it sounds like you're talking about "dumping". Dumping is when a country or organization with deep pockets dumps a product at an artificially low price (i.e. not because they're more efficient) with the intent of putting competitors out of business. Once those competitors are out of business they enjoy the lack of competition and ramp up prices. The ultimate goal is to eliminate competition, and to gouge customers.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I think the first big (and possibly the first absolute) target of anti-trust legislation in the U.S. was Standard Oil. 

It's hard to prove whether Rockefeller gouged consumers (there being hardly any alternative examples by which you might establish whether his costs or prices were economic). 

Certain elements of that example of 'free enterprise' are indisputable however.  Certainly Rockefeller went way out of his way, through means both fair and very foul, to crush any competition.  Certainly Standard Oil EXTORTED preferntial deals from a great many related companies and suppliers.  Certainly Rockfeller became the richest man in the history of the world without making any significant operational changes or innovations (at least none that I'm aware of, or which are widely acknowledged).

It's possible to make bundles of money by really generating new wealth.  More often people make bundles of money by exploiting their power to take (finance-speak: realize) a bigger cut of everybody else's wealth.

jsaitken in a particular mood.
Thursday, June 24, 2004

I wonder how that CityDesk Java clone is doing...

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, June 24, 2004

"Clearly, Microsoft has a monopoly on the Windows OS."

I don't know what that means.  Like what a previous poster said, then "I've got a monopoly on my tennis shoes."

To determine whether a company has a monopoly the relevant "market" has to be determined.  "Windows OS" is a product, not a market.

In the MS Antitrust case of a few years ago, I believe in his findings of fact the original judge determined that Microsoft, because of its ownership of Windows, had a monopoly on the market for "desktop computer operating systems".  This was mainly meant to divide the operating system market into two main parts in which monopolies could be held, Desktop OS's and Server OS's.  MS did not have and was nowhere near having a monopoly on Server OS's. 

Herbert Sitz
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Citydesk Java rewrite:  Now THAT's what I'm talking about.

One of those don't mess with me moments.

hoser
Thursday, June 24, 2004

"More often people make bundles of money by exploiting their power to take (finance-speak: realize) a bigger cut of everybody else's wealth."

Exploitation?  The "power to take" other people's wealth?

So business is theft.  Nice theory.

Problem is, if certain actions are theft, then they aren't business.  Taking other people's stuff is not and never can be the same thing as trading with other people.  Any example you can come up with will be one or the other, but never both.

Brad
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Ahem, AT&T was a government-*created* monopoly, as are the cable companies.  The analogy doesn't fly.

Jeremy
Thursday, June 24, 2004

Selling products below cost (what you referred to as "dumping") is also known as predatory pricing.  No one that I know of has ever been able to prove a case of predatory pricing, at least not in court.  Part of that is likely from the tricky nature of defining how much one unit costs to produce.  Predatory pricing _is_ against the law in the U.S.

Selling below your competitors' costs but above yours is simply free market competition.  I understand that it's not pleasant but it's part of our economic system for better or worse.

Jeremy
Thursday, June 24, 2004

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