Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tyler Cowen hacks Robert Reich's site

How else to explain this passage?

Apple’s supposed sin was to tell software developers that if they want to make apps for iPhones and iPads they have to use Apple programming tools. No more outside tools (like Adobe’s Flash format) that can run on rival devices like Google’s Android phones and RIM’s BlackBerrys.

What’s wrong with that? Apple says it’s necessary to maintain quality. If consumers disagree they can buy platforms elsewhere. Apple was the world’s #3 smartphone supplier in 2009, with 16.2 percent of worldwide market share. RIM was #2, with 18.8 percent. Google isn’t exactly a wallflower. These and other firms are innovating like mad, as are tens of thousands of independent developers. If Apple’s decision reduces the number of future apps that can run on its products, Apple will suffer and presumably change its mind.

There are, of course, economists who believe that the market will find a way to punish anti-competitve practices but Reich certainly isn't one of them. And Apple, though unquestionably innovative, has always aggressively tried to suppress competition dating back to their we-stole-it-first suit against Windows.

Apple's goal isn't to limit the number of apps they can run; it's to limit the number of programmers supplying apps to other platforms. Admittedly, Google and Microsoft are big boys that can take care of themselves, but with the iPad, Apple has one hell of a first mover advantge. When someone manages to come up with a competitive product, they will have to launch it under the most adverse conditions possible.

I agree with Prof. Reich that regulation of big banks is more important, but that doesn't mean that Apple isn't breaking anti-trust laws.

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