AOL's and Microsoft's arguments are essentially the same: so what if it's bundled?
Actually, it's quite different. Remember, the anti-trust case wasn't about bundling, it was about MS forcing OEM's to either foller their demands or pay higher licensing fees. If Microsoft would have offered a better browser then Netscape, at a better value, and OEM's choose to use it, then there wouldn't have been a trial. However, when OEM's didn't choose IE, and Microsoft then felt the need to force OEM's to use IE, then it violated anti-trust law. Okay, with that premise, back to what AOL is doing.
AOL owns 2 IM services. They provide the infrastructure that makes the services possible. This would be like what Federal Express or UPS do. They provide the infrastructure to get packages from one point to the other. Now, when people talk about 'opening' their network, they aren't talking about documenting protocol's or anything like that so that other companies can set up their own network. This would be akin to UPS documenting their shipping procedure so that other shipping companies can copy it. I repeat though, this is not what CMGI's iCast and Tribal Voice are demanding.
No, what CMGI's iCast and Tribal Voice are demanding would be like me setting up an office, collecting shipping fees from customers, and then expecting UPS to pick up the parcels, and ship them at no cost to me. Sounds like a promising business model, right? Well, when I sue UPS for refusing to 'open' their network, I'm going to be laughed out of court. In the retail world, if you want to do business in the name of another company, you'd start a franchise. You then pay the company a fee for the use or their name, and applicable services. I couldn't open a McDonald's and expect to get all the inventory supplied by McDonald's Corp for free, and pocket all the profits, so why should they expect AOL to do so?
There is something similar to this in the software market. It is called 'licensing'. If someone wants to use a service or product that another company owns, they'll go to that company and sign a licensing agreement which will outline the terms and what will be paid for the use of that product or service. A fine example of this is Windows. I don't hear anyone saying that Microsoft should 'open' Windows to "prevent its ability to dominate and restrict consumers' freedom of choice in operating systems." No, when a company wants to preload Windows, they'll sign a licensing agreement with Microsoft.
AOL does the same thing. If you want to use there IM service, then you can license the use of the service from AOL. In fact, the article even mentions several companies who have done just that. "AOL has opened its service to outside providers, including IBM, Novell, Lycos, EarthLink, Apple Computer and Juno Online Services, through licensing agreements."
So, as a conclusion to this rant, I have just one thing to say to companies who want AOL to 'open' their network. Quit whining, and go sign on the dotted line. No one else expects to get something for free, so why should you? Thank you.
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.
[ Parent ]