Regulating technology

Back in the day, there were many folks that wanted to the government to break up Microsoft because they had a dominant position on the desktop and could control everything else on top of the desktop stack and then control the web.

At the time, I was living in Silicon Valley where the anti-Microsoft beat was particularly strong.

I never felt like that was a good idea. First, the web was open and startups and large companies would create alternatives and existing incumbents get stuck. 

I haven’t heard too many people calling for the breakup of Microsoft these days.

But now I’m hearing that the government should take a hard look at Apple’s app store policies and Google search engine algorithms. These companies have built great products and their customers have rewarded them for it.

At the same time alternatives have become quite interesting with even possibly more important than those two mentioned “dominant” products. 

Some would argue that my “hands off” approach to Apple and Google should apply to last mile ISPs. My own logic says that just like competition took away MSFT’s dominance, the same will happen if ISPs don’t deliver the goods with better products & user experiences. 

The thing is I’m not sure that is the case. The costs of last mile delivery isn’t something a startup can offer. The last mile is dominated by a few that own the spectrum or the physical wires. That’s why I’m a firm believer and supporter of Net Neutrality. 

But still, I have more confidence in startups and disruptors than government oversight. After all, I’m writing this very post using my hacked up iPhone acting as a wifi hotspot since this beach house doesn’t have broadband.