Today, in Will’s regular column in The Washington Post, he chides progressives for alleging that our biggest technology companies–such as Apple, Google, amazon.com, and Facebook–are monopolies that should be broken up. Congress even held hearings about this in July in which the CEOs of these companies testified.
George Will then reminds us of so many big, U.S. companies of the past seventy years in which the same thing was said about them–that they were monopolies that should be broken up–and look where they are (or are not) today. He then cites IBM, Nokia, Kodak, Xerox, Netscape Navigator, AOL, and even GM. Yet usually, these companies had more marketshare than that of any of the aforementioned tech giants today.
Will quotes Economist Vernon Smith, a Nobel laureate, as saying, “Everything they say about Amazon was being said about IBM in the 1970s-80s. No one could dislodge them from the monopoly power of their operating system; all their clients were locked in. Then came Microsoft . . .”
Will concludes, “Congress, however, should look for villains elsewhere than among the tech giants. Recent surveys showed that 91 percent and 90 percent of Americans have favorable opinions of Amazon and Google, respectively, and those companies ranked second and third in public admiration (behind the military) on a list of 20 institutions. The least admired? Congress.”