09 September 2008

Are you doomed to repeat history if you already are repeating history?

... or at that point are you just doomed?

Top Lawyer Is Selected As U.S. Mulls Google Suit

Do these people never learn? All through the 70's and into the 80's regulators had their undies in a bunch about IBM's supposed monopoly. Then IBM was eclipsed by Microsoft, and so regulators spent most of the 90's rending their garments over how monopolistic Redmond was supposed to be. Now Google has Microsoft on the ropes, and the same people are gnashing their teeth about Mountain View's possible monopoly. And I guarantee you, a decade from now, someone will have surpassed Google and the DOJ will be unleashing the dogs on whoever the new guys are.

All three of these companies rose to prominence by besting their competitors, and all three of them were (or will be) driven back to the margins by someone else out-competing them. The antitrust goons could have pretended IBM and MSFT didn't exist, and they still would have been preempted by the competition. The same is true of GOOG.

This spurious antitrust crusading is especially galling in technology cases, because the forces which knock off the current king of the hill not only move faster than the current champion can keep pace with, but they leave the DOJ in the dust. The latter of two big antitrust cases against IBM (US v IBM) took 14 years (!!), concluding in 1983. MS-DOS was released in '81, at which point IBM's fate was more or less sealed. US v Microsoft was filed in May of '98, just four months before Google was incorporated, and did not conclude until June '04, just two months before Google's stratospheric IPO. In that six year period, who do you think did more to benefit consumers and curb Microsoft's dominance, the legal eagles of Justice Department, or a bunch of geeks in Mountain View?

1 comment:

  1. Think of it as the Lawyers Full Employment Act.

    You don't want lawyers out of work do you? Living under bridges downtown and panhandling and saying 'hey man, I'll sue that guy for a buck?'

    Wha''r ya, some kind of . . . communist?