Tag Archives: monopoly

Web Blocking in the UK

An internet safe for kids, plebs and Tories

The phone companies’ Tory inspired “safe content” filters are coming online. While the road to and strong arming of the ISPs into voluntary agreement was well covered over the summer, although not be me, it seemed the Surveillance stories were more important, the New Statesman in an article published last week by Martin Robbins, entitled “Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan” shows the bleeding obvious that it’s not possible to build “safe” filters for other people. The article has provoked some noise on twitter since these privately implemented filters are a non-accountable overreach, there is no appeal, no democratic oversight and they are implemented using crude ineffective technology which reinforces such overreach. Taken in conjunction with the Gagging Bill, also known as the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill currently going through Parliament, this should be seen as an attack on our democratic systems in that it will deprive citizens of the information and evidence that they need to vote.

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HMV, a tale of hubris, tax and monopoly

HMV, the UK’s leading bricks & mortar creative industries retailer has gone into administration. Lets hope that its winding up is not as brutal as at Jessops which also failed last week. The FT reports in an article, published yesterday, entitled, HMV calls in the Administrators that the rug was pulled when their suppliers of the music, films and computer/console games refused to extend credit terms to allow them to refinance their debt.

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Search Neutrality goes to Parliament

Earlier this week I attended the @pictfor meeting advertised as about “Search Neutrality”. It had entered my radar when Alec Muffett who had been invited to speak, announced his attendance on twitter and his Computer World blog, “The Google Dialogues : Search Neutrality”. The speakers were Alec, and Shivaun Raff, the CEO of Foundem and Mark Margaretten, Professor at U. of Bedford. Foundem is one of the complaintants to the EU provoking an EU monopoly investigation into Google. This is covered in the Guardian, on the 20th November, in an article called “Google search investigation sparked by complaint from British site”.

Shivaun argued that Google manipulates its sort order to benefit its own alternative properties, particularly the price comparison sites. (Foundem is a vertical price comparison site.) They argue that over 90% of European search is fulfilled by Google, and that when Google chose to discriminate against them, their traffic fell off to a business breaking trickle.

Alec and Mark took a similar line to each other, Google is one click away from failure, relevance including sort order is subject to competitive pressure & no-one has a right to a place in a search engine’s sort order. Alec in his blog post points at James Grimelmann’s article,“Some Skepticism about Search Neutrality” who makes similar points, although Grimmelmann argues that vertical search sites are rarely useful or usable. Margaretten dealt with this less judgmentally by pointing out that Google also prefers sites with original content, which is why aggregator sites do less well. He reinforced the point that there are good reasons to devalue vertical search sites, although Foundem can prove that they were specifically penalised. Grimmelman distinguishes between regulating for “Search Neutrality” which he opposes and anti-trust law which he argues is different and has its own theory and practice. The meeting missed this dichotomy between monopoly regulation and search neutrality.

Shivaun Raff was backed up by a spokesperson from Streetmap, who provided some evidence that Google had manipulated their sort order when they launched Google maps in order to better compete with the established players. I hope that they have made a submission to the Commission. The talk in the bar after was that streetmap lost out due to Google Maps technical superiority particularly features such as navigation, user generated content, personal customisation and world wide coverage; however even if this is true it doesn’t necessarily mean that the allegation of malicious action is unjustified.

I’ll be interested to see if the Commission come to consider Google to be a monopoly. It dominates in search, and its maps and mail are wildly popular but it’s definitely second choice for microblogging (g+) where it’s outgunned by twitter and facebook, identity assurance where Google Profile trails behind twitter and facebook, picture blogging (Yahoo), bookmarks (delicious and reddit) and blogging (wordpress). It’s interesting to consider this in the light of some changes made by google to their user experience over the last couple of months where they are staring Read more …

Free Software in Europe please

It’s an exciting day with respect to the Oracle/Sun acquisition and the EU investigation. Eblen Mogden, on his blog represents his evidence, which says better than I can, why forcing Oracle to de-merge or re-licence MySQL is against the public interest.

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Oracle, Sun, MySQL and Monopoly

Monty Widenius has issued a manifesto asking that open sourcers and MySQL users to write to the EU to let them know their views on Oracle’s potential ownership of the MySQL copyright. He of course hopes we will argue that they shouldn’t.

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Oracle & Sun & the European Single Market

A lot of people have been busy commenting on the EU’s investigation into the competitive dynamics of Oracle’s proposed acquisition of Sun, so I thought I’d join in.

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Free, the right price for software

Economic systems are about how to use scarce resources and the Price Mechanism is the way in which a optimal resource allocation occurs. Economists use a branch of theory called “Welfare Economics” to analyse and model the efficiency of the productive economy, and a theoretically maximally efficient set of states can be defined within a model, known as the Pareto-efficiency frontier. A perfectly competitive market meets the efficiency requirements, imperfect or distorted markets do not. Distortions can be caused by the existence of monopolistic markets, taxation, externalities or missing markets.

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Monopoly and prices

Monopolies restrict supply and offer their goods at prices above equilibrium price, the opportunity cost of the resources used to make the goods. I am writing a short paper about this since it is a piece of thinking I revisited while developing my thoughts on free software, but is not central to those thoughts. There remain those who still think that monopolistic domination of markets is a legitimate business goal and that public policy and regulation should not inhibit this “free” market tendency. A review of the theory of the firm shows that monopolies restrict supply, raise prices and make super-profits.

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Future of the Internet

In March, I attended the EU’s “Future of the Internet” conference. This was a meeting of Europe’s top computer scientists from both business and academia, planned to discuss future research and development. The meeting was jointly convened by the rotating Presidency (the Government of Slovenia) and the Commission, and held at Lake Bled. I attended a number of sessions dealing with technical, societal and economic issues together with the state of research in the European Union.  The original articles were written from notes taken at the time, posted the following week and back dated to the approximate time the speech was given; they were copied across to this ominbus blog in July 2016. It is now, really quite long. The sessions included, Dr Ziga Turk, who spoke of enlargement and the 5th freedom, Dutton on Privacy, Trust and economies of scale, Wyckoff Lovink, Johansen , Vasconcelos in a panel on economics and Heuser, Grégoire, Uddenfeldt , Nathan , Hourcade on the development of technology in Europe, and speakers from the US and Japan.

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EU 10, Microsoft 0

An exciting day in many ways yesterday! The European Court have confirmed the European Commission’s fine on Microsoft for ant-competitive activities. The Guardian have reported it with the head line “European appeal court opens Windows to the world and shakes the superdominant“.

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Capitalism, Communism & Monopoly

Jonathan’s Blog article “Scare Tactics in the World of Open Source” seems to imply Microsoft use the allegation of Communism as a massive insult. I understand that this isn’t unusual in the US. Probably best not ask which is a worse insult, Communist or Monopolist; only one of these activities is defended by the 1st Amendment.

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