Saturday, March 08, 2008

Some Thoughts on Anti-Trust

The recent contretemps over Northrop/EADS winning the KC-X tanker contract has led to think about the Clinton/Reno Justice Department's absurd approach to antitrust issues.

To fully understand why I view it as absurd, one needs to keep in mind two dates:

August 1st, 1997, and May 18th, 1998. Two dates that are less than a year apart. But they illustrate what the DoJ got wrong--and what they also got wrong.

On August 1st, 1997, The Boeing Company was allowed to gain a monopoly on domestic large airframe production. After that date, one had a choice of Boeing, or going to Airbus.

On May 18th, 1998, the Justice Department commenced its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. At that time, users had a choice of Windows, Macintosh Classic, or Linux for an affordable computer operating system. Now, one has a choice of Windows, Mac Classic, Mac OS X, BSD Unix, Solaris, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Debian, SuSE, FreeBSD, and the beat goes on . . .

Nowadays, web applications seem to be the way of the future, making the operating system less relevant than the browser, and there's plenty of choice in the browser world, too.

The Justice Department missed one fundamental point. Creating a computer program requires the following:

1. A reasonably quiet area to think
2. Skill in a computer language
3. A computer
4. Appropriate software

You can do it in your study or a public library. Get a bunch of people together with some venture capital or just a burning desire to show just how good and utterly cool y'all and y'all's ideas are, and you might end up being the next Microsoft or Google.

Creating a large commercial aircraft, in contrast, requires at least one hellaciously big factory (if not dozens of them) and a lot of expensive machinery. You can't do it in your study, or even in your garage (no matter HOW full of fancy tools your pegboard is).

So, Justice screwed everything up . . . and the fallout will likely screw a lot more things up.

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