March 2, 2024

Why No Monopoly is Good


A movie director/entrepreneur named Ray Griggs had a great idea.  He would create an iPhone application that would show the information of every member of the current Congress/Senate in an easy to use and highly entertaining manner.

He asked an artist to come up with bobble-heads for each member, which would shake when you shake the phone and that you could tap, as something cute, and it would have the complete information there.

Turns out Apple didn’t think it was so funny.1

Apple In Complete Control

Screenshot-2009.10.26-11.22.27 The thing is that Apple has a monopoly on its device.  Applications can only be purchased from the Apple store, and that means that any application going through that store is seen as coming with the approval of Apple.  What this means is that if Apple deems an application as “objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic of defamatory” then it really doesn’t matter what we think.

And to some degree I totally agree.  It’s their company, their product, and if they don’t want to put an application on their closed walled garden, that’s up to them.

Just don’t expect people to stay customers if someone comes along with a more open and better solution.

Our System

And that is the beauty of our system—choice.  If we don’t like what person “A” offers, we can find person “B”.  If we think that we would like to live in a different place, buy a different product so be it.

It’s when there are monopolies that problems come into play.  When choice is limited, there’s stagnant innovation, there’s high prices, and a genuine lack of choice.

Some examples:

  • It wasn’t until Mozilla’s Firefox came on the scene 5 years ago that Microsoft finally decided to update their web browser.  Before then, no innovation.
  • Verizon FIOS has begun to offer high speed and phone service in direct competition to Time Warner Cable (in my area, anyway), and that has seen some price wars.

Federal Government

The Federal Government is the greatest monopoly of all, and it only seems to want to get larger.  The latest is health care.  Either the people behind the latest reforms are clueless, or this is a concerted effort to take over the insurance industry.

And yet the Federal Government pays lip-service to choice because they know that people will not choose to get on a highly brittle plan all on their own.

No monopoly is good, unless you’re the one that has all the properties.  There are anti-monopoly laws for a reason.  When will we apply them to the Federal Government?

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  1. Apple rejects My Caricature App, Hat Tip: Ann Althouse []

2 thoughts on “Why No Monopoly is Good

  1. I agree monopolies are bad in general. There are natural monopolies that actually are good though: they should just be regulated. For example, it makes little sense to have multiple gas distribution systems (to the home). So there is a natural monopoly in that business. Now you can still have competition on the sale of gas over the distribution system.
    .-= John @ Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog´s last blog ..Financial Transactions Tax to Pay Off Wall Street Welfare Debt =-.

    1. But gas is also not the only energy form that comes to the house– you have oil you can choose, electric, propane and wood stove. If there was only one means to get energy to the house, then that would be a bigger issue that you portray.

      Monopolies tend toward complacency and usually lack the drive to innovate. Hence why, after atrophy sets in, smaller companies can come in and grab market share– and so they should!

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