Linked by Kroc on Thu 30th Aug 2007 13:03 UTC
Editorial I hear often that when something new appears that "competition is good". The primary reasons competition is seen as good, are: it drives down prices; it gives consumers more choice; it pushes technology forward, quicker. Competition is not good because: competition is why consumers have to choose between HD-DVD and BluRay; competition is why DRM exists; and more. In this article, each of the supposed benefits of competition will be looked at in more detail.
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Competition is good
by g2devi on Thu 30th Aug 2007 14:26 UTC
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Ironically, the arguments presented actually support competition. Let's look at DRM. The only way it works is if the hardware, operating system, and peripherals all all collude to keep anyone out of the DRM club out. DRM is, by nature anti-competitive. Ditto for monopolies and software and business patents and any vendor-lock-in "features". So what is competitive? Anything allows customers to replace one product with a competitor's product with minimal effort. Credible open standards like TCP/IP, LSB, PDF, and the SQL or C++ specifications are also competive since they ensure replace-ability.

Open source, in general, is very competitive because in the worst case you can either write a conversion program based on the original open source code or fork the project internally and develop it yourself. Note, open source is not always competitive. Anyone who's had to convert a typical MySQL database to any other database knows how difficult it is. It's the open source equivalent of Access. It does the job, but only if you agree to the lock-in. SQL-lite and Postgres are more competitive, but even in the MySQL case, you can at least maintain the code yourself if you don't like the maintainer's direction or support company's fee/license.

All these things are good for customers.

About the only thing bad about competition is that competitive groups/companies that make things fundamentally different or non-standard for the sake of being different (i.e. lock-in with zero advantage).

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