Monopoly is not good, even an Open Source, fragmented one!


Tech world is full of partial or complete monopolies. Desktops and Laptops are completely won over by Windows. There are other operating systems, but just. Even Apple, which has a very respectable amount of fan following is unable to beat the sheer numbers of Microsoft. Of course, due to selling hardware as well, Apple does make better margins.

Coming to Apple, iPods are a complete monopoly in the PMP world. The likes of Sony are there but not exactly fighting but more like furring around trying to make any impact. iPod has become synonymous with PMPs so much that people want other companies’ iPod. That is a Monopoly, friends!

And without Google, this list would be just incomplete. Google came in the search market when it was not empty but created so much space for itself that people just do not think that there might be other search engines (equally good) out there. Like iPod became a noun for PMPs, Google became a verb for search. Total command is in Google’s hand and as we move more towards the web, this monopoly is increasing in girth each day.

Google search

According to statcounter currently Google holds 91 percent of market share in online search.

There is better competition in the email arena. Gmail has just become number one in the world but there are still many countries where Gmail is not that big. Gmail is not a monopoly by any standard. But they are on their way!

Google stumbled upon something much better to become a monopoly in than email- Mobile space!

Android is an Open Source Project- Yes! But it is effectively handled by Google. There are other partners and there are multiple mobiles in the market but the core is handled by Google. Of course, forking is there and so is fragmentation – there is a certain Kindle breaking Google’s heart by creating a parallel ecosystem and there are modders infusing their imagination in the already brilliant OS.

This kind of Mobile ecosystem was created by Apple as we all know (hence the lawsuits everywhere). Google though, is approaching what we can call a monopoly in this space as well. Android is now serving close to 75% smart phones.

The smart phones themselves are increasing in size at a very fast pace. These are the making of a monopoly (if we do not consider it one already). There are many makers with their own skins on top of Android but this is Windows all over again. The search is Google’s and so is the email. If Android reaches your hand (except for the Kindle one) then Google has you by neck. Of course, being Google, this mostly ends with a good neck massage.

I am not against Google or Android! If anything I might be considered a fan boy. Monopoly though, is not something I want in the mobile space. It is fierce competition that is best for the end consumer. Apple is reducing slowly and will settle in the same situation as its desktop counterparts- making good margins and remaining for fans. Windows is starting a long, toiling journey that is not going to be pleasant one. They have created a good mobile OS but are not familiar with the territory. The rules are different and so is the user demand.

Blackberry on the other hand knows the consumer base in and out. They unfortunately are late to the party- Too late or not, we shall find out next year. To be honest, I still have more hope for Blackberry than Windows! Will they be able to break the rise of Androids is yet to be seen.

One thing is for sure, if monopoly continues, the progress of OS, which has been remarkable in the past couple of iterations (partly contributed by lawsuits as well) will eventually slow down. There will be modders adding new features but Google might relax.

It is very important for Microsoft, Apple and Blackberry to keep Google on its toes. For it will be the best for all the ecosystems!

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