The Future of Internet

The Future of Tech Regulation

Posted in Regulation by markpeak on 7 กันยายน 2010

Tech revolution spurs debate over antitrust law – บทความจาก San Francisco Chronicle

ประเด็นเรื่องการกำกับดูแล (regulation) กำลังถูกพูดถึงมากขึ้นเรื่อยๆ ในโลกไอที โดยเฉพาะประเด็นเรื่องผูกขาด (antitrust) ซึ่ีงเป็นแขนงหนึ่งของ regulation (แต่เป็นแขนงสำคัญ)

SFGate ตั้งคำถามว่า “Is antitrust outdated for the Information Age?”

เหตุหนึ่งก็เพราะว่าแนวทางในการ “วัด” การผูกขาดหรือการมีอำนาจเหนือตลาด (ซึ่งเป็นพื้นฐานสำคัญในการพิจารณาว่า รัฐควรเข้ามายุ่งหรือไม่) เริ่มจะใช้ไม่ได้แล้ว เพราะตลาดมัน convergence กันมั่วไปหมด

The traditional metrics for evaluating anti-competitive behavior focus on market power and the ability to substantially raise prices, factors that also get fuzzy with these tech platforms.

When a company is selling toasters to customers, it’s easy to measure their market share and evaluate their pricing. But toasters only compete against toasters (and maybe the occasional toaster oven). Operating systems, search engines and social networks, even dominant ones, sometimes face competition from other platforms.


Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, highlighted the difficulty in measuring these things at the Aspen conference.

For instance, while studies put Google’s share of the online search market at anywhere from 66 percent to 81 percent, he said the company only has “maybe 2 percent” of the global advertising market. So which do you measure?

ตลาดเปลี่ยนเร็วมาก จนรัฐอาจตามเทคโนโลยีไม่ทัน

“The markets are changing rapidly,” said Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute in Washington, D.C., which has called on regulators to keep an especially close eye on emerging technologies like mobile advertising networks. “You certainly have to watch these guys like a hawk, figure out where they’re going and figure out what each move means strategically and whether it will be (anti-competitive) in the future.”

นอกจากนี้ยังมีประเด็นการใช้สองตลาด (หรือมากกว่านั้น) ควบคู่กัน เพื่อสร้างอำนาจผูกขาดระหว่างกันขึ้น ทำให้ยิ่งกำกับดูแลยากเข้าไปอีก

The literature can quickly make a layman’s eyes go cross, brimming with words only an economist could love like “multi-sided platforms,” “vertical restraints” and “indirect network effects.”

But here’s the gist: Companies like Microsoft Corp., Google or Facebook Inc. built platforms with several sets of constituents: the users of the operating system, search engine or social network on one side, and advertisers, application developers or various other partners on the other.

There’s often a virtuous cycle that kicks in, where more users draw more developers, advertisers and partners, who in turn draw more users, and so on. In the cases of these three platforms, this so-called network effect rapidly created dominant companies in their respective fields – in fact, arguably increasingly quickly with each successive company

ผลของการเข้ามากำกับดูแล อาจจะไม่ช่วยให้บริษัทเล็กอยู่ได้อยู่ดี (กรณี Netscape)

The academic experts reached for this story believe that the company was clearly abusing its market power in operating systems to squash a more innovative rival in the Internet browser space, namely Netscape. But here’s the thing: The government won the case, but who uses Netscape today? Its market share dropped from around 80 percent to less than half of 1 percent.

ในบทความยังพูดถึงหนังสือ The Keystone Advantage ถ้ามีโอกาสคงได้หามาอ่าน

A 2004 book, “The Keystone Advantage,” articulated a largely free-market take on how these platforms, or ecosystems, should be viewed by antitrust authorities. It argued that the interdependence of all these parties is self-regulating, at least when led by a type of company it dubbed a keystone. The book cited Microsoft as an example.

Rather than pursuing a “dominator strategy,” the Redmond, Wash., software giant sought to partner with vast numbers of developers and partners, recognizing that their success was intricately tied to its own.

“Keystone strategies should most often not be … a red flag for policy makers,” wrote the authors, Harvard Business School Professor Marco Iansiti and former Microsoft program manager Roy Levien. “Indeed, we believe that public policy could be designed to reinforce keystone-like behavior and avoid harming critical network hubs, considering that the associated damage could paralyze vast numbers of ecosystem participants.”

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