Re: merge Intel & Microsoft

Chris Hibbert (
Sun, 7 Nov 1999 22:44:59 -0800 (PST)

Robin Hanson wrote:
>> I guess it comes down to how serious these are as entry threats.
>> If they don't have much of a chance of beating Intel or Microsoft,
>> then it's a shame to impose great inefficiency on current customers
>> merely to increase a small chance of a competitor beating them.

But they don't have to beat Microsoft to make a difference; carving out a reasonable market niche is enough. If Wintel doesn't have a monopoly and they have active competition they have to conduct their business differently. Doesn't that change the analysis of the situation?

On a related note, here is my reading of Friday's decision: The Judge decided that it's a matter of fact that Microsoft is a heinous monopolist. It's not illegal to be a monopolist, but it is illegal to be a heinous monopolist. Apparently the legal precedents says that Microsoft has to prove gross negligence or something equally extreme to overturn the findings of fact. It's not clear what the Judge will decide to do to them, but he seems to have decided that they're guilty. Even on appeal, that part is going to be hard to overturn given the "facts" as they stand now.

It's sort of like refereeing in volleyball. (And presumably most other sports, though I understand the formalities in volleyball.) When a play is done, the ref decides what happened. He can consult the 2nd referee and the line judge, but when he's done, he gets to say who touched the ball and the net, where they left the ground and in what order everything took place. He then decides what rules apply, and makes his call. If anyone disagrees, they can argue about what the rules say, and they can even appeal on interpretations of the rules. But if they disagree about what happened, they can only ask the referee to change his mind about what happened. His reconstruction of the events is the only one that counts.

As a ref, you learn to describe what you saw in the terms of the rule you expect to apply. Very seldom, you agree with someone that things happened in a different order than you first said, or that a player was playing a different position than you thought.

In the Microsoft case, the judge has given his interpretation of what happened, and he's couched it in terms of the laws he expects to apply. It seems pretty clear what laws apply in the situation he's described. He has tremendous leeway in determining remedies. (The papers keep saying that's "a euphemism for penalties", but I think they're wrong. He can't just order fines or jail, he has to prescribe something that will apparently change the practices he says have occurred.)


Chris Hibbert         It is easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but    not so easy to turn fish soup back into an aquarium.
                        -- Lech Walesa on reverting to a market economy.