A decade ago, that headline would have been unimaginable. Of course, success has its rewards:

The Department of Justice is investigating Apple’s practices in the digital music market, according to reports in The New York Times andThe Wall Street Journal. Apple has not publicly commented on the formal examination.

The antitrust case against Microsoft crippled the company. The impact was not immediately apparent, but every decision inside Microsoft was predicated on the antitrust implications. If Microsoft did X, would the feds come after it because nobody else did X? While Microsoft was entangled in the antitrust lawsuit, other companies took advantage. Apple and Google ate Microsoft’s lunch.

I’m a humble software architect. I’m currently working on moving old client server applications to the web. I soon discovered that you needed to offload a lot of the processing to the browser to get acceptable performance. What struck me was how much faster Google’s Chrome and the open-source Firefox were, compared to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Like, the users thought Chrome was great and IE sucked; it was that bad.  The mobile world is moving to the latest internet standard, HTML 5, very quickly. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android Operating System will take full advantage of this new standard. Microsoft is stuck on Windows, and is still trying to squeeze it into mobile devices. It can be done but the result ain’t pretty.

In the computer industry, the idea that one company can dominate the market forever is ludicrous, yet that is the underlying assumption behind antitrust laws. Companies can gain dominance, but such dominance is always temporary.  The same applies to other industries. GM had total control of the US market 50 years ago. Now, it exists only because the US government took it over.

Advertisements