Is Consolidation A Myth?

from the competition-everywhere dept

Thought provoking piece over at Always-On suggesting that all this fear about consolidation killing off competition is a big myth. While there are plenty of examples of companies buying up each other (and even areas where there are fewer companies within a specific space than before) consumers have more choice than ever before, leading to better products and lower prices. Sure, it may seem like there are big media conglomerates, but there are also plenty of independent websites that give people choice. Sure, there may be fewer small local banks, but there are plenty more banks that have expanded from other areas to serve a large population. Basically, what appears to be happening is that the regional companies are being eaten up, but there’s plenty of competition on a global basis. Of course, there are still some exceptions (I’m still limited in my broadband connection choice, for instance), but these might be temporary monopolies, rather than a permanent state of affairs. I’m not sure it’s completely true, but I do think some fears about consolidation everywhere are overblown.

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Comments on “Is Consolidation A Myth?”

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Gregory Kennedy (user link) says:

No Subject Given

Consolidation is a complex issue. Different industries have different dynamics. The telephone and cable operators need to be monopolies because we can?t have every cowboy investor digging up the streets installing his own cables wherever the he sees a money making opportunity. In banking consolidation is a problem, because institutions that are federally insured merge with ones that are not making a monster that the FED would have to bail out. Steel, is just an industry in decline with no growth, so the companies merge in order to create growth to please investors.

I think in some cases it can be good like steel and cable, but in other instances it’s definitely not a healthy sign like in finance.

BTW: Whoever thinks that Linux is an alternative to Windows is a moron. While it might be viable for unemployed geeks who get off tooling around with their computer, by the time Lindows or something is ready for the primetime the desktop in my opinion will have become irrelevant.

anona says:

Re: No Subject Given

“BTW: Whoever thinks that Linux is an alternative to Windows is a moron”
Your the moron. Most people do word processing, check email and surf the web. Linux is More than Capable of doing all these things and more (very easly and most of the time better than windows).
The only thing that is holding it down is game support. Which has 0 to do with the OS.
Did I mention the OS is FREE, the word processer is FREE and thousands of other Apps are FREE.
humm I guess FREE is bad in your mind.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

george, the reason that the accountants upstairs aren’t demanding it (and I work with these accountants) is the only thing that appears to be relevant to them is ‘will it run EXCEL ?’ which their job is pretty much based on. So if you say ‘no’ or ‘yes but..’ the automatically discount it.

An accountant view of life is extremely narrow as is most peoples. There is and always will be a great resistance to change due to fear of the unknown.

Back to the consolidation issue, it’s pretty much a necessary evil as most business (phone, cable, retail, grocery, etc) will usually only support 3 contenders over time at most UNLESS there is continuing innovation in the industry. The industry that dead end (like the phone companies) either merge to please investors by showing revenue (and maybe profit) growth otherwise they become irrelevant and/or bankrupt and sold for pennies on the dollar. Broadband service of cable and Phone lines has brief some life back into two deadend businesses and created competition in an entirely new market between two industries that previously had nothing in common. Wonder how long before a phone company buys a cable company … or vice versa.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

UNIX was written largely for the purpose of running a game Ken Thompson wrote. Can you same the same for Windows? I didn’t think so. Gaming is rooted farther down in UNIX than it is in Windows.

An old UNIX game Rogue (or nethack depending on who you ask) is the predecessor to many games today, including Diablo (the Diablo developers admit this). Rogue/nethack is also the oldest game in continuous developement.

Now, I’m going back to playing my graphics intensive, first person shooters, on my UNIX workstation. (Quake3, Unreal Tournament, America’s Army, or Enemy Territory. Can’t decide which, maybe some good old doom instead)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No Subject Given

> Now, I’m going back to playing my graphics intensive, first person shooters, on my UNIX workstation

I would normally take that as scarcasm, however….

You know, I said the same thing about my SGI workstation over a decade ago. PCs are just now beginning to catch up, but dragging along all the unnecessary complexity and bullshit that keeps me at my *n*ix workstation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No Subject Given

> how come the ruthless, bottom line focused accountants upstairs aren’t demanding IT upgrade my Dell right now?

…because it’s easier to fire/down-size you?

No, wait…

…because Dell sold their sole and no longer provide linux pre-installed?

no, that’s not it, how about:

Because they haven’t seen corporate desktops running Knopix yet and their IT folks haven’t seen how running diskless desktops using PXE/bootp can singlehandly solve the complcated and virtually unsolvable patching problem that MS has create.

humm, not quite there yet… this is it:

Because accountants rarely have any IT skill/knowledge (why do you think they outsource IT? …because they believe the sales pitch about “containing costs”) and the IT folks who do work for large organizations like engineer in a little job security from time to time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

I’ll see your flame and raise you another:
Whoever said Windows could handle being a server is even worse.

I know more places that use netware or unix (or unix-like system) as the server’s for their windows systems than those that actually use windows servers. Where I work we have a single Windows server, just so that people can use citrix to remotely access their stuff. Everything else is done with Unix systems.

I think the bigger problem with the Desktop is that many non-technical people don’t like ANY change, not just to unix. The same idea applies to anything, people like to stick with what they know already and they are content to stick with that even if there is a better alternative (not necessarily referring to unix or even computers there).

In college I worked for one of the departments. A bunch of the software we used was Unix only (possibly solaris only) but at one point it suddenly was released for Windows. So we replaced one of our Sun Workstation labs with Windows PCs. That didn’t cut down on general user problems with the computers.

But back to the unwilling to change thing. One person with some buearucratic weight wanted MSIE on the Sun machines. We secretly installed it somewhere for that person. More people use the secret MSIE installion, than the Mozilla icon sitting in the menu. Ironically the secret Quake installation wasn’t found by many users at all, eventhough the student workers played it constantly.

Another funny one is the users who don’t seem to know about the secret MSIE installation still use the sun workstations. They just run it off the Citrix Server instead. When asked they usually mutter something about the “21-inch sun monitors”

Feeding the troll, but couldn't resist says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

“I know more places that use netware or unix (or unix-like system) as the server’s for their windows systems than those that actually use windows servers.”
Anecdotal evidence like this is useless noise that doesn’t further your argument. For every person who “knows places” using x, or doing x (for that matter), there is another that “knows places” that do the complete opposite. And neither proves anything.
Nor does your anecdote about “people choosing the secret icon”. While you seem to be under the impression that the choice of IE in this case “proves” they are unwilling to change – all it actually proves is that they prefer IE. You can’t infer that this is due to an unwillingness to change without more data. In the case of MSIE, up until recently Mozilla had poor NTLM support. It also crashes badly a bit too frequently. It is slower to load under some installations and certain functions take longer. Many sites were not tested in Mozilla and thus have many errors or don’t behave as expected. All of which are possible reasons that someone might choose to use IE.
Incidentally, before making assumptions, Mozilla is my primary browser because I like it better – but my browser preferences haven’t made me blind to its faults.

Gregory Kennedy (user link) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Telephone and cable in the past definitely needed limits on who could rip open the street and wire buildings with copper.

Even with wireless and satellite, the competition will be limited due to the fact that the spectrum has to be controlled by the GVMNT.

Satellites are an interesting area, where free enterprise has already driven down costs significantly. Although Iridium shows how risky that business can be…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

it’s interesting you should mention this… {The} telephone compan{y,ies} originally got their start by running wires willy nilly all over the city, in a slow but successful effort to compete with the entrenched monopoly at the time: telegraph companies… the market does like consolidation (up to a point) after the innovations part has been hashed out.

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