25 May 2004 ken   » (Journeyer)

An interesting paragraph from a news article:

"While the Opera payment is relatively tiny, it underscores ongoing ripple effects in the browser market that stem from the overwhelming dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Having used its desktop operating system monopoly to help trounce its primary rival Netscape, Microsoft has effectively abandoned significant browser development efforts. That's left companies with negligible market share such as Opera and Netscape's Mozilla open-source project to lead innovation in the field. "

Full story on Microsoft's dealings with Opera and the browser situation.

This paragraph points out two important points:

  1. Monopolies and lack of competition stifle innovation
  2. Open source innovates where proprietary software fails to

Firstly, Microsoft chose to compete in what was previously a vibrant and profitable market (browsers). Netscape was a profitable, public company that was churning out new innovations and improvements to the browser experience at a breakneck pace. When Microsoft started giving away its browser, competition and improvements continued - so long as there was competition. The moment Netscape fell behind and ultimately failed, innovation stopped and has never truly recovered. The article even goes into further detail about how Microsoft plans to neglect the browser product further. Moral of story: competition is good. Monopolies kill innovation.

Second, the remaining innovation that comes in the browser market has come about in part from open source products. So much for the claim that proprietary software is the source of innovation. Innovations such as tabbed browsing, popup blocking, integrated bayesian spam filters (mail) came about from either open source or relatively poorly funded corporations. It was the wealthy, proprietary corporation that stifled innovation.

People who read this blog know all this already but it is nice to see mainstream media start pointing this out.

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