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Microsoft Shows Tech 'Monopolies' Don't Last
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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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7/18/2014 | 10:15:39 AM
Absolutely nothing?
Much as I hate to disagree with the boss, I'm not sure government antitrust had "absolutely nothing" to do with Microsoft losing its dominant position. I'd rate court/government intervention a 10% factor to 90% missed opportunities for Microsoft, entropy in the market, and smart moves by competitors.

Maybe a little bigger than 10%. It's no fun to run a race with lead weights around your ankles. The court action reflected the late 90s duel between Microsoft and Netscape (and others) over Microsoft's attempt to leverage the Windows/Internet Explorer combination to make itself dominant in web-based as well as desktop computing. IE faded partly because of poor software design, relative to the competition, but also partly because Microsoft wasn't able to maximize the advantage it had there relative to the competiton. MS also had to step carefully with other product introductions that might provoke court / Justice Department intervention.

The rise of the smartphone / tablet / smart gadget market, which made Microsoft's desktop dominance less relevant (and helped boost Apple's Mac/iPhone/iPad/iPod ecosystem) has been the bigger factor in recent years, and I'd agree that was absolutely independent of antitrust. Or at least 90%.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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7/18/2014 | 10:26:24 AM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
Diagree with me any time, Dave! But I still fail to see how the government's moves to protect Netscape (a company that no longer exists) and promote browser competition contributed to the rise of Android and the smartphone and tablets and other Windows competitors. The innovations of Apple and Google and others not aided by the antitrust efforts are responsible, no? Are you saying that the trustbusters slowed Microsoft down enough to let those innovators steal a march on Microsoft?
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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7/18/2014 | 10:41:02 AM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
No, I'm saying it was a factor, not the dominant factor. The rise of personal devices other than PCs is probably a bigger one.

Netscape was probably a goner by the time the government acted, and it may well have failed anyway. Remember when they wanted us to pay for the browser and Microsoft made theirs free (bundled with Windows)? That was probably never a winning strategy; other free browsers would have come along and undermined them there.

Still, there's no way to re-run the experiment and watch history play out again without the antitrust action. But I imagine that in that alternate history, Microsoft would have been a little bit stronger competitor and might well have leveraged it's position on the PC a little bit more, and its smartphone and tablet offerings would have won a little more market acceptance as a result.

Of course, if that alternate history still featured the same UI revamp for Windows 8, all bets are off.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
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7/18/2014 | 12:56:54 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I feel like the reasons for Microsoft's undoing (rise of smartphones and tablets, decline in PC sales, SaaS) started to happen seven or eight years after the 2000 anti-trust ruling. So it's hard to blame anti-trust on Microsoft losing its way in the mobile era, unless perhaps the anti-trust battles made Microsoft weary and tentative to go after new markets. But I don't buy that argument. I think it was just poor leadership and lack of foresight by Ballmer, who was allowed to run the show for too long.
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 4:12:11 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
But, I think the anti-trust broke their key to success, which was using their monopoly powers to lock people into their stagnent stuff. Once that was broken, they started to die the death of a thousand paper cuts until a real industry shift happend, which a non-innovative company can't handle. If not for the anti-trust, it's hard to say how powerful of an impact could have been mustered against them. Also, don't forget Microsoft WAS going after the various markets of the mobile era, they were just not good efforts (which was typical... the monopoly just enabled forced success).
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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7/22/2014 | 5:48:06 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
The IT industry has grown to include many types of new services and products and this growth is also reflected in the current financial size of the IT industry. Microsoft or any one company could not possibly deliver this diversity and range. The Cloud was ignored by Microsoft -- resulting in Saleforce. Social was ignored -- resulting in Facebook and Google, and so forth. The IoT is being ignored currently by Microsoft, but there is a trade-off, if any company tries to enter a new area, it is accompanied by a risk factor and capital can be lost.
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/22/2014 | 6:33:28 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I somewhat agree. Certainly one company isn't going to master every conceivable area, but you either have to master (or do pretty well) at one, and continue to innovate in that area, or you have to do well in catching some emerging category, or creating one.

Apple, for example, has done pretty well at both aspects. They are still quite good and pretty innovative where they started in traditional 'PCs' but also have done well in other areas like mobile, and at least tying their stuff to the cloud. That isn't to say they are perfect. They've blown attempts in a number of areas as well.

Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn't done so well in their cores (especially in the last couple of years), nor in innovations to catch the various waves, or create them. If they don't get that straightened out soon (which they might), they will eventually be just part of tech history. Remember Novell? That's (their technology) where I started my IT career. My CNE (and almost ECNE) is pretty worthless now.

And, Microsoft DID venture into a number of areas. So, taking a risk wasn't the problem. They just didn't have the vision to actually apply the talent they obviously had in a meaningful way. For example, how many anticipated hits did they attempt in the tablet sector? I remember at least two efforts, which I predicted would fail (it was quite obvious). And, even their current one, while much better than the others, is questionable IMO.

Hopefully Nadella can turn things around and properly put some of their tallent to use. I'm always a fan of any company or competition which drives the market forward. I've been a critic of Microsoft because they did the opposite, and didn't get where they are by being excellent.
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 12:28:38 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I seem to remember being fairly disappointed with the government's actions, considering all the damage Microsoft did to the industry. But, what I think it did accompllish, was to slow down Microsoft's blatant efforts to hold their monopoly by any means. So, while the anti-trust penalty was merely a slap on the wrist, without their continued efforts to thwart any competition, they lost the ace up their sleeve. Normal innovation in the industry killed the giant that had little innivation.

But, I'm still left scratching my head a bit over the whole investor thing. What did investors have to do with it? If anything, they *reacted* insanely late, maybe helping nail the coffin.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
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7/18/2014 | 1:37:46 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I think it's hard to separate antitrust enforcement from that happened to Microsoft. Technology changed but Microsoft's ability and preparedness to react to that change was weighed down by antitrust compliance burdens. If you go back to the judge's finding of facts (http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f3800/msjudgex.htm), it's clear there's more to the case than Netscape Navigator. Microsoft was also trying to kill Java. Had Microsoft been left to do as it wished, the technology world would be very different today.

Some consequences of the ruling: Microsoft was not allowed to acquire Intuit; Microsoft propped  Apple up by investing in the company when it was almost broke and by not withholding Office (which it could have done without trustbuster attention); browsers became a special class of protected software; open-source got an interface (the Web).

VInt Cerf argues that even though Microsoft was not broken up, open source saved competition and innovation. As I see it, open source, the Web, and Java are intertwined. Open source mattered to companies as a way to be free of platform-locking and vendor meddling. But it began mattering to consumers when it became the free interface for the Web.

Much of Microsoft's troubles have to do with it still relying on the same revenue sources now as it did two decades ago. It got too complacent. But competitors would have had a harder time without the leg up provided by government oversight. For example, when Google was offering desktop search software, Microsoft tried to hobble it. Google complained to the government and got Microsoft to back down. That might not have happened as easily if Microsoft had not been an acknowledged abuser of monopoly power.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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7/18/2014 | 1:58:05 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
Tom, well argued, young man!
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
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7/18/2014 | 4:48:05 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
Tom, reading this I see that the anti-trust ruling left Microsoft more bruised and battered than I thought, and that companies were freer to innovate without Microsoft strong-arming them. Thanks for the perspective and good examples.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
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7/19/2014 | 4:16:55 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
You have provided great examples that no single company, even the largeone can dominate the market forever.  Sooner or later their dominance will face stiff competition from new competitors.  While such competitors bring new ideas to the market.  Monopolies tend to defend rather than innovate.
jries921
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jries921,
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7/18/2014 | 2:39:45 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
MS long ago identified Google as its primary competitor at a time when most of us thought it irrational to do so.  I humbly submit to you that had MS won its case (or if the DOJ had never brought it) Google would no longer exist in its current form because MS would have strangled it using methods similar to those used against Netscape.  And while Netscape died, the Mozilla project it spawned survives to the present day and provided the initial meaningful competition in the browser market that was needed to stop MS from exercising de facto control over WWW protocols.  MS won the battle by destroying Netscape and then defeating the breakup order, but ultimately lost the Browser Wars.  Again, if MS had won the case, I doubt very much that either Firefox or Chrome would exist today; likewise, I don't think Android would exist and Linux would probably be restricted almost entirely to college campuses.  It's not even clear that Apple would still exist were it not for MS' rescue effort, which appears to have been a defensive move designed to weaken the DOJ's case against it (no Apple; no OSX and no iOS).

 
jries921
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jries921,
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7/18/2014 | 2:45:37 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I forgot to mention Palm, which in many ways originated the existing mobile market.  MS quickly responded to a perceived threat by introducing the Pocket PC and encouraging its OEM partners to make it; but I think would have acted much more aggressively had it prevailed in the DOJ case.  Thus, I think chances are good that MS would own that market today if it hadn't been for the trustbusters.

 
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 4:04:22 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I very much agree with what you're saying. I might just take exception with the comment about Microsoft rescuing Apple. In some sense, that is the case as they were about to cut off the Mac version of Office, which would have hurt Apple's future quite a bit. On the other hand, the pittance of an investment was just a public gesture move, as Apple was in pretty good financial shape.

The biggest factor in Apple's success was Jobs coming back and getting the industry-expert-idiot-CEOs out of the way. Apple had great stuff, which means great people working on products. But the leadership kept making one daft decision after another (often in alignment with what all the tech-experts were saying they should do). I'm guessing there *HAS* to be some good tallent at Microsoft as well, so maybe their future will be brighter now that at least some of the idiots are out of the way there too? We'll see.

People like to use 'free-markets' as a buzz-word a lot, but what is often misunderstood, is that free doesn't mean 'hands off' but an environment where proper freedoms and regulations keep human-nature in check. A corrupt market isn't a free market.
jries921
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7/18/2014 | 4:44:42 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
To be clear, while Steve Jobs' reputation when he returned to Apple was much better than when he left it, it wasn't anywhere near what it was at the time of his death (by which time he was seen as a modern Midas).  Just before the bail-out there was very serious talk in the tech media that Apple was close to bankruptcy.  The Steve Jobs of 2010 would have had no trouble asking a bank for a loan to tide the company over pending the release of a hot new product and getting it (but the chance of his needing one would have been close to zero); I don't think that could have been reasonably said of the Steve Jobs of 1997.  Apple might have survived without MS' aid on the strength of Jobs' considerable charisma and creativity, and much improved management skills; but I'm not convinced it would have been enough.

 
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 6:07:40 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I'm pretty sure they had a decent amont of profit coming in and a billion or two in cash on hand. Had Microsoft pulled the plug on Mac Office, it certainly would have made things difficult for Apple. The money was probably more to settle the suits between them, but spinning it as an investment did more for PR purposes for both of them, and the general public and media who *thought* Apple was going under.
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 12:37:19 PM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
I'd maybe even put it a bit more strongly. While I'm sure *eventually* Microsoft would have been taken down by someone.... I'd say that had the government not stepped in and at least tripped up Microsoft's plans and actions, it's hard to say where we'd be right now. Microsoft was dominating by preventing industry innovation. They might have not been able to keep everyone else down forever, but they were doing a pretty good job of it.
David1960
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David1960,
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7/21/2014 | 12:57:14 AM
Re: Absolutely nothing?
The Government did hurt MS but a lot of it was well deserved with their monopolistic tactics including trying to destroy Netscape.  Lets start with CPM.


But on the other hand the article doesn't talk about the probably 80 - 85% of desktops that use Windows in one form or another maybe 5% for Apple and 7 for Unix/Linux...


So their monopoly has lasted but the Desktop/Laptop martket has become a smaller fraction of the total pool.

While I am not a big fan of MS their product does work, most of the time with a good degree of reliability for the average user.  I have always found Apple to be impractical for business and frankly a toy but I do hear more people using it each year so maybe will have to revise my opinion. 


Yet by the time I do, based on the premise of the Article, Apple's advantage in iPhone iPad will probably be gone too but what will replace it?  Android which is controlled by Google? Or will there be a new model?

 
D. Henschen
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7/18/2014 | 10:33:36 AM
Great analysis and long-term perspective. Where does open source fit in?
You are absolutely right about free-market forces working faster than government intervention to reshape IT. Where does open source fit in here? Just one more market force? Some say the model is a game changer in putting IP in the hands of the community. It has reshaped the database business and is a foundation of the big data world.

Granted, there always seems to be the commercial support and "enterprise" software layer on top, so detractors might say it's just a new way to get people hooked on commercial offerings. I honestly vacillate between seeing open source as huge and seeing it as, ultimately, just another model for making money on software -- even if startups and get started and self support for years before opting for commercial support options. What's your view?
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
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7/18/2014 | 11:13:50 AM
Chip makers
I've enjoyed watching the large chip makers become supplanted in recent years. While AMD might have given Intel a run for its money in the desktop market during the early 64bit dual core era, the latter has always maintained its performance crown. However in recent years, with the growth in mobile and smaller form factor computing, Intel seems lost in comparison.

AMD has the notebook market tied up, ARM, Qualcomm and others have bigger stakes in the mobile market. 

And Intel wants to reinvent the desktop to somehow bring people back. It's interesting stuff. Perhaps its own anti-trust fines have prevented it from domineering as it once did. 
anon6635912771
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anon6635912771,
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7/18/2014 | 1:46:42 PM
AMD
==-

>AMD might have given Intel a run for its money in the desktop market during the early 64bit dual core era


It still does, if money has value to you. Intel is only the right choice if you MUST have the highest horsepower processor at any cost. Other than that, the only reason an IT manager would choose Intel (partcularly for workstations) is if he doesn't care that he's spending someone else's money and he's dumb ("Well, no one ever got fired for buying Intel").

Sadly, the fact that Intel is as evil as Microsoft has no relevance in business decisions.

-faye kane ♀ girl brain
soozyg
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soozyg,
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7/18/2014 | 11:46:08 AM
staying ahead
Microsoft's announcement Thursday that it's cutting 18,000 jobsfrom its payroll,

I remember years back, about 5 years into Bill Gates's rise, there was all kinds of commenting and articles about how he seemed to be swallowing up everyone and everything around him. All the technology, all the companies, all the personel. When asked why he was doing business in hyper-speed, even after he was a billionaire, he responded with something like "I always have to stay ahead of the curve." Oh well.
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 12:32:19 PM
Re: staying ahead
The problem was that was just a bunch of baloney. Microsoft wasn't staying ahead of any curve. They were using all sorts of tactics to hamper innovation and retain their position. He probably really meant the financial curve.
TerryB
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TerryB,
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7/18/2014 | 1:09:06 PM
Re: staying ahead
I agree with Steve, there was a period of time where MS played the Oracle game, long before Oracle used it to get where they are now.

Anything that had any (MS) perceived potential got bought out. Any patents/technology from it they thought would add to their existing products they used, but the "brand" of the startup was gone. Whether that caused the internal stagnation of innovation or was a symptom of it, I'll leave you to decide.

But this whole tablet/smartphone thing, who could really see that coming? If you would have told me back then people would willingly shell out $50 a month on data plans for these tiny screens, I'd have thought you were crazy. Shows what I know about people.

Apple had very little to lose when they entered this market, their Mac's were a niche and still are. Google/Android had very little to lose, they could also take risks you could see a mature, profitable company like MS saying "Ummm, no" to. Also keep in mind MS was very preoccupied with Xbox and Zune (iPod competition) during the period leading up to tablet/smartphone explosion. In phones, they were aiming at Blackberry back then, which seems humorous now.
stevew928
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stevew928,
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7/18/2014 | 3:48:36 PM
Re: staying ahead
The biggest damage Microsoft did, IMO, was their mucking with the Interent. We're *STILL* suffering from that with 'apps' built on some of their browser versions and Net technologies, keeping users, especially in the enterprise, from moving on. They were designed to kill the open and cage people in, and they used their monopoly powers to pull it off.

Then there were the more shrewd and shady things like brower integration to the OS, or making competing browsers and video technolgies not work properly, or difficult to install. Or changing the file formats for Office to thwart compatibility efforts. Some of these things might be considered OK moves unless you're a monopoly.

And I hear you on the phones, I still can't believe the average person spends that much on a phone plan. However, as someone who went through the Palm days and such, I totally get why Apple's iPhone took off. It was the smart-phone everyone was dreaming about in the days of semi-smart phones. I know people laughed at the 'magic' language with that and the iPad, but even though we're now getting used to it, I'm still kind of blown away by the accomplishment (and I have a tech and electronics background).

Also, don't forget how many times Microsoft tried to enter the tablet market. If you look on my website, you'll still find the articles I wrote about why they would fail, in response to all the articles of amazement and praise from the tech sites (probably including this one). I was always a bit disgusted to the extent that Microsoft was the media-darling through those years... kind of shows the whole money-talks thing, huh?
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
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7/20/2014 | 5:23:20 PM
Re: staying ahead
I think that in terms of the general marketplace, there isn't one single thing that Microsoft did to get to this point. 

The reality is that venture capital is looking for ways to disrupt the software industry, and companies like Box, Google and Facebook have been large recipients of those cash flows. VC is what creates new businesses that are constantly challenging Microsoft in the software market, especially in the enterprise sector. 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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7/22/2014 | 2:31:03 PM
Re: staying ahead
Good point about VCs, which shouldn't be neglected from the conversation. At least during the current tech renaissance, they've certainly forced the issue.
soozyg
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soozyg,
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7/18/2014 | 11:53:47 AM
today's market
the free market has a way of sorting things out -- faster than ever in this day and age

Yes, I can see that. With tech companies coming and going so quickly, the order of things gets figured out very quickly these days.
jries921
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jries921,
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7/18/2014 | 2:10:14 PM
Yes and no
Yes, markets abhor a monopoly and will work to break it (unless the monopolist resorts to patronage policies ala Rockefeller or Gates to insure that as many potential competitors have a stake in the status quo as possible) and yes, monopolistic vendors tend to stagnate over time; but they also tend to use their political influence to perpetuate themselves (that's part of what lobbyists are for), they'll fight on their own to maintain their privileged positions using whatever tools seem to be convenient (what Steve Ballmer spent most of his tenure as MS-CEO doing), and it may take many years for them to decline enough to make real competition feasible (and then, the result might be the replacement of one dominant vendor with another). So, no I don't think waiting for monopolistic firms to die on their own is a viable strategy for insuring free markets (look at how long IBM's dominance lasted).


Also, while I might have missed something , you appear to be discounting the likelihood (I think it a certainty) that the MS antitrust case gave competing firms and developers (MS' destruction of much of the proprietary software industry was a golden opportunity for open source projects) a much greater ability to compete with MS without having their "air supplies cut off"; and helped provide trustbusters in other countries the evidence they needed to proceed with their own efforts.  It certainly hastened Bill Gates' retirement, which meant a much less talented manipulator ended up at the helm (which in itself helped to open up the software market).

 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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7/23/2014 | 10:39:34 AM
Re: Yes and no
I just don't see dominant tech providers able to hold onto their dominance like they used to--the "natural" monopolies with their huge barriers to entry excepted. Pundits worried about iPhone and iPad dominance--there were even calls for government intervention. Then came Android. And Microsoft didn't go away either. There's just too much vibrant innovation, out of startups and established players alike, to let any single big tech provider sit fat and happy and control a market for long anymore. Certainly not for as long as they used to.
jries921
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jries921,
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7/23/2014 | 10:49:51 AM
Re: Yes and no
Perhaps dominant vendors like MS are no longer in a position to hold on to their dominance long term, but I don't think your claim that MS' dominance was undermined by market forces alone is supported by the history of the past 16 years.  Rather, I have to believe that the antitrust cases and the 2001 settlement with the US Justice Department greatly impaired MS' ability to maintain its dominant position and that the DC Circuit's quashing of the breakup order was a Phyrric victory for MS.  Indeed, I have in recent years come to the conclusion that it would have been better for MS' stockholders, employees and customers if the breakup had gone forward, as the case would have been over, and the two successor companies could have gone about their business without further restrictions.

 
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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7/18/2014 | 4:59:38 PM
Monopolies incur "protected," not competitive, thinking inside
Getting an early monopoly in a technology market may be a guarantee of a great run for 15-20 years, then sure decline afterward. Monopolies induce favored-positiion thinking, not compete with the best in the marketplace thinking. Satya Nadella is trying to turn that around at Microsoft and it's a Herculean task. Microsoft simply isn't geared to compete in the mobile market. The cloud market may yet slip away from it if Linux and open source in the cloud gain further ground on Windows.
jries921
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jries921,
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7/18/2014 | 5:40:47 PM
Re: Monopolies incur "protected," not competitive, thinking inside
Pretty much.  The strenuous efforts of the Ballmer years to protect Windows and Office from competition reflected just that mindset.  I'm even willing to think that those very efforts hindered MS' ability to develop and market new products (as almost all new initiatives were defensive in nature; or carefully designed to undermine the business models of companies deemed threatening, even if they weren't direct competitors).  MS was, as far as I could tell, the very first company to seriously promote tablets (probably the most innovative move MS has made in the last 18 years or so), yet the effort went almost nowhere (I've never used a TabletPC and am given to understand that I am fortunate in that regard).

Steve Ballmer did his company a disservice by wasting time and energy trying to undo the antitrust cases and restore the 1990s; instead of moving forward as best he could in the new environment.  His appointment as President of MS was Bill Gates' biggest mistake.

 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
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7/22/2014 | 2:43:17 PM
Re: Monopolies incur "protected," not competitive, thinking inside
Well put, Charlie. Nadella's trying to break down some reinforced cultural walls right now, in an attempt to make Microsoft move more like the Silicon Valley start-ups who've begun to encroach on Redmond's turf. I think Nadella is saying all the right things, at least in the abstract, but there's still a lot of work to be done. I run into a lot of people around the Bay Area who reflexively dismiss Microsoft. "I haven't paid much attention to Azure because I assumed it sucks," a guy running IT at for a non-profit website told me. "Does anyone write apps for Windows anymore?" asked the web-inclined CTO of a promising start-up when I asked if he'd ever used Visual Studio. You can criticize these people I'm anonymously quoting for failing to pay attention to Microsoft's recent momentum, of course. But it still shows that Microsoft has a cultural and PR challenges, in addition to tech ones.

I think all the viewpoints here touch on the reasons why Microsoft is now, as Nadella puts it, an "underdog"; as a protectionist market leader, Microsoft succumbed to market forces, but as Tom cogently explained, those market forces were better-positioned thanks to the courts.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
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7/22/2014 | 6:18:51 PM
Re: Monopolies incur "protected," not competitive, thinking inside
@Micheal, agreed, at least one of Microsoft's product or service will have to be a success in order for Microsoft to gain some good PR. It would be better if the product or service is consumer facing, this could be from any line, even the ones that are already established, for instance, Xbox. However, in terms of sales, Microsoft is losing to Sony in the console world. 
Andrew Binstock
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Andrew Binstock,
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7/23/2014 | 3:23:35 PM
I see Microsoft's evolution
Rob:

While I concur in part with your analysis, I view your main point rather differently. Microsoft had a monopoly on the desktop. It still does. The numbers you quote add in phones and tablets where the company never had market share. So analyzing their desktop monopoly as falling apart b/c of non desktop devices doesn't work for me.

My larger take is this: Microsoft maintains a strong monopoly on the desktop. But the company correctly viewed the desktop as a shrinking market several years ago and began three key initiatives to offset the anticipated decline: cloud, tablets, and reinvestment in its phone business. It's clear the first initiative, Windows Azure, is paying off well. 

It's too early to tell whether the Surface will ultimately be an important player or not. And the Nokia acq, having only just been completed, is another long-term unknown.

So, unlike the usual story of a company with a monopoly that was unable to adapt to the new world, I see Microsoft as doing that adaptation uniquely well. Far better than other IT vendors, such as IBM, Dell, etc. have been able to do. I think the company's excellent financial results over the last two years strongly support this view. 

Cheers!
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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7/25/2014 | 1:41:01 PM
Re: I see Microsoft's evolution
Andrew, let me clarify: I'm not saying that Microsoft's desktop monopoloy came apart because of competition; I'm saying that other companies have innovated around it. Tablets and smartphones and hybrid devices make Microsoft's Windows dominance much less relevant. Taking the argument to an extreme just for argument's sake, no one quite broke Western Union's telegraph monopoly, but innovations elsewhere made it increasingly irrelevant over time. 


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