Mar
17

Serious Lack of Common Sense

By

I have been following the EU’s campaign against Microsoft and the most recent skirmish is absolutely unbelievable to me.

The charge is of course the fact that Microsoft bundles Internet Explorer with Windows. And by doing so is considered an antitrust act….

What are they teaching people in business school? An operating system is a sum of parts. It has things such as a place to write on, a calculator, some sort of file manager,… you get the point. With how important the Internet has become, it would make sense that an operating system, designed for all users, would have a web browser (Mac OS X has a browser, heck RedHat Desktop has one).

There is no market

Ballmer: Do not try to monopolize the market; that’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.

EU: What truth?

Ballmer: There is no browser market.

So its an established piece of the operating system. Now lets talk about the browser “market.”

Every major browser that has been made in recent history is free: Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, etc. A market is defined as a system in which goods and services are bought and sold. Well every product in this “market” is free so there is no buying or selling and therefore the browser market doesn’t even exist in the first place and therefore any monopoly or antitrust laws are null.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Claim Incompetence

But let’s get away from semantics. We will assume that it is a market, Mozilla makes quite a lot of money from users who search Google via Firefox, so why not, its a market.

Going back to an OS being a sum of parts. A car is another product that is a sum of parts as is a computer. If I opened a business that sold car seats for Hondas could I not then sue Honda for selling car seats in their cars, which gives them an unfair advantage in the Honda car seat market? Or better yet. You go to an auto parts store you will see shifter knobs, steering wheels, and floor mats. Should all of these manufacturers sue the auto industry for antitrust?

Of course they wouldn’t. They understand business. They know that they must market their products and give reasons for buying their products even though its a cost that is above and beyond that of what a car costs. Internet browser software is free, and can take less than a minute to download and install. Essentially it is a no-risk product. Which means a browser software company merely needs to come up with the slightest of reasons for a consumer to user their browser.

So if we go this route of logic, Mozilla, Google, et al, are aiding the EU in this lawsuit against Microsoft because browser makers are incompetent in understanding market forces. That doesn’t seem fair either, if you detect weakness in your opponent, you pounce. So perhaps the European Commission is incompetent.

The Truth

Firefox owns almost 22% market share, Microsoft owns around 67%, Safari owns 8%, and the rest of the browsers (some 20 or 30 of them) own 3%.

In less than two years, IE has dropped market share by 11.5%, Firefox has gained 6.5%, and Safari has gained 3.5%. In other words, Internet Explorer dropped 15% in less than two years. Another market has seen its number one product drop by 15%… it took 10 years… Coke if you wanted to know specifics.

15% market in 23 months is proof positive that Microsoft Windows isn’t really shielding IE from any browser.

As a side note, only 9% of all Macs use Firefox. Perhaps they should be forced to remove Safari from their operating system.

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