Saturday, September 5, 2009

A monopoly done right

Alright, so monopoly is a dirty word. It has been ever since some idiots back in the early part of the 20th century used their resources to try and satisfy the insatiable demon of greed.

The term has not improved in standing much over the years, probably because of the few "monopolies" left.

Microsoft releases shoddy software that it puts a half-concerted effort towards and forces everyone in the world to pay hundreds of dollars for it. General Electric puts out ultra-sound machines that cost roughly 15x what it would to make a decent one, that has scratchy resolution and inferior parts inside of it. Telecoms do very shady things to keep it difficult to deny their services (such as disconnect fees, not allowing you to keep the same phone number, and charging you thousands of dollars a year to watch advertisements on cable television).

'Nuff said. Monopolies are bad.

Well. . .kinda. There is one company that is doing its darnedest to be the exception to the rule. Google. They have over 60% of the search engine market world wide. If you want to advertise on the internet you pretty much have to go through Google now. They have the market, they could charge out the nose for it--they could squeeze a lot of money out of John and Jane Q. Proprietor if they wanted to.

Have you ever seen how Google advertising is set up? You say how much money you have to spend on advertising, and how much money you're willing to spend for each click. Google gives you a priority based on the price per click--and takes your ad off when you reach the limit that you specify. Money is only deducted from your account if someone clicks on the link to your site. Google says, "Let's work with you. How much are you willing to spend? Okay, we won't go over that, and we won't charge you if we don't get you results."

When was the last time Microsoft said, "If Windows stops working for you--you'll get a discount?"

But, that's only one side of the equation to being a truly beneficial monopoly to mankind. The second part is how you spend it. Google spends its money developing new and better programming languages. It donates millions each year to research and development in fields not directly associated with its business model! (That is just one of a hundred possible examples)

They provide software, free of charge, that people want. Do you pay to use gmail? Did you know that it is nearly as complete in core-functionality to a Microsoft Exchange server (which costs about $800 new)? You are getting an $800 product for a comparatively low price of having 4-20% of your screen covered in advertisements, and allowing Google to collect anonymous data about you so it can better design its software and conduct research about how to better benefit you. Granted, it can sell that anonymous data about how you use the web to other companies.

Big flippin' deal! If it's that important to people, let them pay Google to improve Python, write software that can eliminate costs associated with phone usage, and donate money to help fund causes that Eric Schmidt feels is worth while. This blog is powered by Google--and it makes my family's life better to have it.

That is how a monopoly should be. If it's helping humanity, who in their right mind would want to file anti-trust litigation? This kind of attitude--going after the guys with deep pockets--is exactly what made the term monopoly taboo in the first place.

Well, to them I say, "Let Google do whatever it wants. When it stops being a boon to mankind, and starts to be a tax on them--then is the time for action."

For now, I'm happy with Google's products. I'm happy with what they do. I'm glad they are here.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....