In the past four years, Microsoft Corporation, the largest software company in the world, has quietly swallowed many of its smaller competitors. Fox software, One tree software, Softimage, and countless other companies that once competed against Microsoft, are now undescript cogs in the Microsoft monopolistic collective. Who, if anyone, is harmed by the corporate towers in the computer industry? Monopolies, by definition, strangle competition. How does one quantify the harms of a software monopoly, whose market dominance allows for valuable standardization, but whose power inflates the price to consumers and prevents the onset of higher quality competitors? Our project will tackle these questions and other issues surrounding the advent of the computer corporate monopoly.
Monopolies in the software and computer industries are unique in that their effects are more celebrated than scorned. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and richest person in America if not the world, is the embodiment of the American dream. One reason for people's generally favorable view of companies like Microsoft is that the negative effects of their dominant market shares are intangible; Microsoft works constantly to adjust its software to the needs of users and its software has improved dramatically without an exorbitant increase in price. People did not fear Windows 95, but rather stood in line at midnight to buy it. the industry is unlike any other, and not surprisingly, so are the effects of the corporate monopolies. We must understand their influence on the industry as the role of silicon grows in our increasingly computerized society.