Loving to hate: Google v Apple

Joe Wilcox asks: Is Android a dangerous monopoly? At issue is Google hate based on their being who they are.

the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department allegedly are beginning a joint investigation into Google’s Android licensing agreements. But I can explain what it means. Striping to the bones, from an antitrust perspective, there are two pivot points: Monopoly position and exclusive contracts. Then there is the broader regulatory agenda: Correcting (or preventing future) consumer harm.

Globally, Android is unquestionably a monopoly in the market for smartphones. However, its dominance in the United States is comparably muted by competition from iPhone. Based on smartphone subscribers, Android’s share was 51.4 percent for the three months ending July 31, 2015, according to comScore. iOS ranked second with 44.2 percent.

So the question: Are consumers robbed of choice that causes them harm? The answer relates to what I perceive as Google’s primary motivation for the current licensing arrangements. Android is a hugely fragmented operating system because Google doesn’t control platform updates. The company lets cellular carrier and manufacturing partners choose when, or if, to dispatch Android version updates. By the way, that demonstrates how much freedom licensees have—to control the experience for their customers, even if it hurts the platform they provide.

Apple presents competitive alternative from a unified base, as the majority of users typically adopt the newest and safest iOS version. Consumers have another attractive platform choice. By contrast, Android users get something less and quite possibly are harmed in the process. Fragmentation hinders choice and increases security risks presented by consumers running outdated Android versions and choosing to download apps from unmonitored sources (meaning not Google Play).

From that perspective—and a few commenters will blow brain aneurysms with this—it could be argued that Google causes more consumer harm by not imposing more control over Android with its licensees.

The question here is why the platform that imposes less control and provides more freedom of choice for both manufacturers and consumers is being subject to harassment while the platform that imposes a straight jacket is considered exemplary. That is characteristic of a leftist mentality: allowing the end user more choice among many options is harmful while restricting end user choice and option by an elite authority is considered good. This allegation of monopoly or whatnot stands in clear contradiction to the diversity in the market. But then, intellectual honesty is not a hallmark on the left. A ‘monopoly’ is constructed by ignoring such things as Amazon’s Kindle and the many manufacturers who make their own choices and tweaks to set their products apart from the competition. Android as fragmented is seen as “worse than bad” – a bug and not a feature. This appears to be one area where diversity is really bad and that brings up the point that the argument is made by those who aren’t very consistent in their thinking as the left generally considers diversity as super great.

That leads to the consideration NeoCon raised in More on facing “the truth”.

It’s not always—probably not even often—an easy or simple thing to comprehend the “truth” of events as they are happening. Doing so requires a host of elements: correct information, sound judgment, some knowledge of the past in order to put the present in context, and yes, the courage to face what you see even if it is a disillusioning departure from a previously held belief and/or hope.

It’s tough to sit back and examine our perceptions, especially if we are buried in a sea of emotion that is invisible to us that clouds our vision.

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