monopoly vs. standardization

Where is the line between monopoly and standardization?

To me a monopoly is where one entity controls the situation and others can’t make a difference. Standardization is where multiple entities cooperate and make sure things play nice together.

I would agree wholeheartedly with Kgroneman.

I would also add that monopoly capital tries to justify itself and it’s “necessary” existence because “products need to be standardized” and “we are the only ones who can get it done right.”

-joe :slight_smile:

On 2008-06-12, Neophyte42 <> wrote:
> Where is the line between monopoly and standardization?

They both create a unique way of realising something.


  • they own it, can make other’s pay for it
  • they design it alone (faster, but limited set of ideas)
  • they can change it, at will


  • nobody owns it, so it’s available to everyone
  • design by compromise (slow, but sometimes better)
  • the product must keep to certain rules, unless all agree

The sand remembers once there was beach and sunshine
but chip is warm too
– haiku from Effector Online, Volume 1, Number 6

I would contend that monopolies are not always evil and/or bad. I would also contend that you can stifle competition and be an evil corporation without being an monopoly.

In every single place I’ve lived, there has been one provider for each major utility. Often several utilities (water, gas, sewer, etc) come from one utility. These are monopolies, and yet few complain. It doesn’t make sense to have multiple gas infrastructures in one city. Natural monopolies should be monitored and regulated to keep prices fair.

Back in the day airlines were regulated as well, because some industries are damn near impossible to break into without some serious dough. Many argue that government should stay away from business, but the airline industry has been going downhill steadily since deregulation. On principle, I do support a smaller government, yet I’m left to wonder if there are markets where heavy government regulation is necessary, especially when no, or little competition exists.

For instance, there are very few oil companies in the US. The big boys are reporting record profits every single quarter, topping the previous quarter. Yet they insist they have no choice but to raise prices. It seems scary to have the government interfere with industry, and some would contend a US corporation making massive profits is a good thing for the economy on the whole, but I’d argue that the entire economy is driven on some small part by the price of oil in this country. One could argue that such an industry should be heavily regulated by the government.

What do you guys think?

Well you have opened a whole new bag of worms talking about oil. First of all in nearly all countries, oil company means oil importing company since it’s probably the case now that that there is only a handful of net oil exporting country and the most significant is Saudi Arabia.

If you want to be scared about the future of oil powered society, read Simmons’ Twilight in the Desert (which is actually quite a technical book, and not a doomsday or greenie book, don’t recall seeing global warming mentioned anywhere in it), proposing the case that SA oil is peaking or has peaked and that we had better find alterternatives in a world where too many users are chasing too little oil.

If nothing else reading it will dispel the common notion that you just need to poke a hole in the ground at the right spot and pure oil will gush out. Oil extraction is a very complex affair.

We do have major oil corporations in the US. They make money refining oil and selling it for ever increasing record profits, while the economy of the US is suffering due to rising gas costs.

We do also extract oil in the US, but we sell that off.

Sure, but shaving the oil company profits may bring prices down but it is merely ignoring (perhaps bringing forward) the inevitable exhaustion of oil. So while the oil importers are hated messengers, there is a message underlying.

As Simmons points out, there isn’t just one oil market, there are various sectors for light, heavy, etc. However, that doesn’t change the fact that most countries are net importers.

In case you think new technologies will come to the rescue, that is discussed too. Things like “superstraws” just suck up the recoverable oil much faster. Eventually in order to get the remaining oil, more and more expensive technologies have to be brought in, or currently infeasible sources tapped, which adds to the cost of course. If nothing that makes alternative energy sources more competitive.

And if people thought that just oil comes up, the water cut can be as bad as 10 times more water than oil. Why water? They inject water underground to maintain enough pressure to get adequate flow. It doesn’t just spurt out.

Next in line: CO2 injection, which helps oil flow better. More infrastructure to produce the massive amounts of CO2, i.e more cost.

That bicycle is looking good.

This is a good topic idea. Kudos on it. Without getting too deep into it, each has a benefit on their own level. Monopoly is independent and does not need to be supported by any other outside source. In the case of economic monopoly, this can get out of hand, controlling everything in every step of the process. This just strangled anyone looking to start their own business in the same area as a monopoly. In the other case, standardization is good because the more input you get, the better the company or product will be. Plus, each person/company can work specifically on one step of the process, putting all their strengths together, rather than just merging the steps into 1 long process.

For companies like Novell, I like the idea of standardization. It allows for cooperative licensing and makes the experience better for users like us. Even though many of the programs we use in OpenSUSE are not 1st party applications per-say, the 3rd party applications are made by companies that specialize in creating these programs. IE: Gimp from GNU. The best part of this cooperation is the easy in adding hardware and applications to SUSE. Rather than having companies playing keep-away with each other, they share the products they make, giving the user the best experience.

So in short, I would take standardization over a monopoly in almost every case. I just like the idea of cooperation between different companies to put the best and most complete product on the market they can, rather than hiding their products.

It’s actually a really good topic because of what’s going on in the market right now…not the oil, but the proposed merger between Sirius and XM satellite radio companies. I think the FCC still needs to decide if they can both merge before one or the other goes down the drain. The problem is that they are the only companies of their type, so people wonder if they will become a modern monopoly. Thought it fit just right in this idea.

As for the bike idea: Gas mileage of a bike - ∞ :smiley:

I heard about the Sirius / xM merger talks last night. A major consumer protection lobbying group is claiming that a regulated monopoly now would be better than a monopoly later due to one of the companies failing.

The bike wouldn’t be feasible for my 40 or my wife’s 60 mile commutes.


Basically, it sounds like there will be only a single company left after this: either both combines, or 1 fails. And it’s not like a small business can send a satellite into the stratosphere and bring in competition. Would be funny though, “The federal government has decided to regulate the merger by selling satellites. The starting price is $5.o million.” :smiley:

(PS: 40-60 miles might require about 3-4 more hours of commuting. But, imagine the muscle size after 80 and 120 miles of daily biking! :smiley: )

Indeed. However, I don’t think that I would be able to say to my employer with any honesty, “I’ll be back.” after that kind of communte! :smiley:

Standardization is always better than a monopoly.

Look at the US as an example. M$ pays new countries to represent M$ in support of ooxml, effectively bypassing the international standards body.

The Sirius XM merger would not create a monopoly, yes it would be in the sense of the single satellite provider, but not in the sense of listening to entertainment in your car or home, there are other competing technologies still, free radio, CD, Audio device…In this case a single company providing satellite service has plenty of competition and as a satellite user, I am willing to pay for no commercials.

With M$ stiffling competition and doing what ever it takes to kill percieved threats is just wrong. Competition is healthy and good when it comes to technology. Look I.E. would not have evolved if not for Netscape or Firefox. Adhering to W3C standards just makes it better for you and I.