Monday, September 26, 2011
Google And Monopoly Theater
As I watched the Google antitrust hearings last Wednesday, with its gotcha moments and Senators pontificating about the dangers Google poses to society, it struck me that what I was watching was theater. And not just any theater, but monopoly theater. I am borrowing from the concept of security theater: "a term that describes security countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually improve security." In the same way, talking about Google's monopoly power and what the government should do about it provides the feeling of improving competition while doing little or nothing to actually improve it. The hearing touched upon many serious concerns about Google's market power, but in the end it was just monopoly theater. Nothing antitrust regulators do to Google will actually improve competition.