Innovation Blog

“M” Stands for Murdoch, Microsoft &….Monopoly

By Shlomo Maital

Nov. 25/2009

   Microsoft is like the famous racehorse Silky Sullivan — the greatest come-from-behind racer in the history of the world.  

          Ridden by jockey Willie Shoemaker,  Silky once galloped along in a race until the field was 41 lengths in front of him—and still won by three lengths.  To  accomplish this, he had to clock the last quarter in 22 seconds flat.   

    Microsoft never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Then, using their muscle, cash and aggressive marketing,  they blow smarter faster competitors out of the water. Anyone remember Netscape — the browser that invented browsers, before Internet Explorer?   Microsoft leveraged its Windows monopoly to stuff Internet Explorer down our throats;  bye bye Netscape. 

    Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer is at it again. (Bill Gates is busy giving away his money, rather than trying to make more).  Microsoft missed the search-engine/advertising boat.  So, Microsoft is negotiating a deal with News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch, giving Microsoft’s new search engine Bing exclusive rights to news from Murdoch’s newspaper (New York Post, Wall St. Journal,  The Sun, Times of London and others).  Exclusive — meaning, the news from those papers will not appear in Google.   Microsoft will pay Murdoch substantial sums in return.[1]    

     Murdoch is a hardnosed businessman.  He hates leaving money on the table.  Why give news away for free?    he says.   But guess what, Mr. Murdoch?  Infinite amounts of news are available for free on the Internet.    If you try to limit access,  people will read their news elsewhere.  They have oodles of alternatives.   The BBC, a great source of news,  already announced they will continue to provide their content for free.

     “I’d rather have fewer readers who pay, than many readers who don’t”,  Murdoch says. 

      Microsoft’s attempt at creating monopoly restrictions is not surprising.   What is surprising is Murdoch.  He is known as an implementer of modern technology.  Why does he not understand that the rules of the news game have changed forever and irrevocably?   Monopoly by definition rests on there being no alternatives or substitutes.  When there are infinite substitutes,  monopoly is impossible. 

     Nice try, Microsoft. Nice try, Murdoch.  In your case,  “M” stands not for Monopoly, but Mistake — a Big Mistake.


[1] International Herald Tribune, Nov. 25/2009, “Big changes in offing for news media and the Web?”, p. 14