“The Internet has been incredibly empowering to creators, and just as destructive to middle men”
Tell that to Amazon, which is the ultimate middle-man for books. Or Apple, the biggest middle man for music. Or Google, the information middle-man which rules the Internet. Or… or… or…
You get the picture. The old vision of the Internet as engine for disintermediation turned out to be false. All that happened was that another, new breed of fast-moving middle-men took over. What Apple is doing with its App Store is simply the middle-man trend of the Internet taken to its logical conclusion.
(Photo by wackystuff)
Fraser Speirs thinks yes, and I think he might be right.
Last year I posed a simple question:
“But what happens if Apple’s market share grows to the point where it has a monopoly – 70-, 80- or even 90% market share? That might take ten years, but it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, and it’s certainly something that Apple would like to have.
At that point, does Apple’s control over third-party applications become an abuse of a monopoly – something that is, of course, illegal in both Europe and the US?”
Fraser’s essential point is that Apple doesn’t actually have to reach that kind of high market share figure to potentially fall foul of anti-competition law:
“The Essential Facilities doctrine rests on the control of a particular resource by a monopolist. Apple is not a monopolist in mobile phones, mobile phone operating systems. That’s not the issue.
Apple is, however, a perfect monopolist in “technologies necessary to sell an application to an iPhone owner”. How many iPhone App Stores are there? Exactly one. Who controls it absolutely? Apple.”
So is he right? What do you think?
(Photo by slowburn)