Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 24th Jul 2009 22:52 UTC
Editorial Every few years we geeks have our own kind of popcorn show to watch: tech companies showing teeth to one another. This time around, it's Palm vs Apple. In all seriousness though, how ethical is the battle around iTunes?
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Monopoly?
by teab on Sat 25th Jul 2009 14:35 UTC
teab
Member since:
2009-07-25

The author of the article misunderstands what monopoly means. He conflates monopoly with being a major success. A monopoly is when a company controls a particular market. Apple does not control the digital music market. They are merely successful in it.

Microsoft was/is a monopoly on the internet browser for Windows because it did not allow other browsers within its OS to really be used successfully.

On Macs, you can clearly use other music players and other music browsing devices to browse other music stores (e.g., Amazon's own music store).

iTunes itself is proprietary software with its own music store. It does mean it should allow other programmes or non-Apple devices to use it.

Get your conceptions about what monopoly means. These days, a lot of techies equate monopoly with the idea of being a major success in a market. Given that, then maybe one of the large American car companies like GM (or formerly) was a monopoly because it was the largest car company and it also wouldn't allow Porsche engines to be installed in their car bodies. (Yeah exactly. What???)

Reply Score: 0

RE: Monopoly?
by sbergman27 on Sat 25th Jul 2009 16:04 in reply to "Monopoly?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

The author of the article misunderstands what monopoly means. He conflates monopoly with being a major success.

If that major success creates a substantial barrier to entry for other potential players, as iTunes arguably does, then it is a monopoly. And using that monopoly to leverage another of their products is quite clearly a fundamental violation of anti-trust laws.

Somehow, some people seem to operate under the misconception that to be a monopoly you've got to have 100% of the market, and own all the pipes that deliver the gas, or all the wires that deliver the electricity. It's all about barriers to entry, no matter what form those barriers might take.

Edited 2009-07-25 16:04 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Monopoly?
by mkone on Sun 26th Jul 2009 14:18 in reply to "RE: Monopoly?"
mkone Member since:
2006-03-14

"The author of the article misunderstands what monopoly means. He conflates monopoly with being a major success.

If that major success creates a substantial barrier to entry for other potential players, as iTunes arguably does, then it is a monopoly. And using that monopoly to leverage another of their products is quite clearly a fundamental violation of anti-trust laws.

Somehow, some people seem to operate under the misconception that to be a monopoly you've got to have 100% of the market, and own all the pipes that deliver the gas, or all the wires that deliver the electricity. It's all about barriers to entry, no matter what form those barriers might take.
"

You seem to be making things up as you go along. Apple does a few things. It makes the world's best smartphones and mp3 players. It is the most successful by a country mile. People do not buy iPods and iPhones because they need something they can use with iTunes. That is a very tenuous argument. Yes, iTunes did, and probably still does enhance the appeal of iPods and iPhones. But if Apple is being anti-competitive, it's because their products are far and away better than the opposition. And they have spent a lot of money creating the ecosystem to make their products successful. What now, force them to sell competitorss products in their stores?

Secondly, Apple provides DRM free music, and, as has been pointed out, provides an xml file which third parties can use to find out what is in Apple's iTunes database. If Palm wasn't so lazy, they would have spent some of the money they used in developing the Pre to develop a nice way to sync music and anything else with their phone. These half measures are why every iPod killer fails, and it's not because Apple is being anti-competitive. It's because they actually think everything through.

Not all barriers to entry are bad. I think laziness is a legitimate barrier to entry.

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE: Monopoly?
by galvanash on Sat 25th Jul 2009 18:38 in reply to "Monopoly?"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

The author of the article misunderstands what monopoly means. He conflates monopoly with being a major success. A monopoly is when a company controls a particular market. Apple does not control the digital music market. They are merely successful in it.


That is entirely subjective, as is the definitive point at which a company would be considered a monopoly. The textbook definition is (from wikipedia):

"In economics, a monopoly (from Greek monos , alone or single + polein , to sell) exists when a specific individual or an enterprise has sufficient control over a particular product or service to determine significantly the terms on which other individuals shall have access to it."

The argument could be made that Apple has an effective monopoly over digital music distribution. I don't know the current numbers, but in 2006 iTunes sold 88% of all legally distributed digital music - and they are currently the number one distributor of music, including physical media - beating out the previous number one Walmart in April of this year. Imo, they have had a VERY effective monopoly for over 3 years now.

Microsoft was/is a monopoly on the internet browser for Windows because it did not allow other browsers within its OS to really be used successfully.


No. That is an example of abuse of monopoly position, not an example of being a monopoly. Microsoft was/is a monopoly purely on the grounds that they held better than 90% of the OS market for consumer PCs.

On Macs, you can clearly use other music players and other music browsing devices to browse other music stores (e.g., Amazon's own music store).


So what? What does that have to do with Apple's monopoly over music distribution? Apples computer business is an unrelated enterprise.

iTunes itself is proprietary software with its own music store. It does mean it should allow other programmes or non-Apple devices to use it.


No, they don't have to allow it - but them actively disallowing it is the issue...

Get your conceptions about what monopoly means. These days, a lot of techies equate monopoly with the idea of being a major success in a market.


If major success means holding nearly 90% of a market then YES, that is a monopoly. It may be a legal one, but it is a monopoly non-the-less.

Reply Parent Score: 4