Plain Talk: Can North Dakota Help Break Apple and Google’s App Monopoly?

The new iPhones, from left, X, 8 and 8 Plus, after Apple's product event at the new Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017. (Jim Wilson/Copyright 2017 The New York Times)

In the late 19th century, hundreds of small, short-line railroads were being bought up and consolidated into larger companies. Our nation’s burgeoning economy was (and still is, in many ways) dependent on those railroad lines that were increasingly under the control of a shrinking number of people.

Those people began using their monopoly over the transportation of goods to price gouge and manipulate markets.

“If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life,” Republican Sen. John Sherman said at the time.

Sherman would ultimately give his name to the Sherman Antitrust Act, which continues to the basis of American antitrust law to this day.

The point is that corporate hegemonies should be allowed to suppress free trade. Some argue that’s exactly what’s happening in the enormous and growing market of app development.

Two companies dominate that market. Apple, the manufacturer of iPhones, and Google, which operates the Android operating system used on phones from pretty much every single non-Apple manufacturer.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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