If you were spooked by the vision of technology and institutional hubris gone amok in Minority Report, pull the covers over your head now. This week, the European Union's (EU) European Commission (EC) opened an investigation into a Microsoft
The crime? Future domination of a market that does not yet exist.
If you're confused or angered by this, then you must not be a socialist or an EU commissioner. So step outside yourself for a moment, you capitalist dog, and try to see things from the EC's side of the table.
Here's what the EC claims: "It appears to the Commission that the transaction might possibly create or strengthen a dominant position by Microsoft in the market for Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions."
Silly me, but I thought the whole point of a business was to make money from a competitive advantage. Apparently, in Europe, competition is OK, so long as there's no winner. That may be a nice way to run a church T-ball league, but it's no way to advance an economy or culture. (But maybe it explains a few things about the medal counts in Athens these days.)
Another unfortunate reality for the commissioners is that there isn't much of a market for DRM at all right now, and the leader in the field is the only company making a splash in the download biz: not Microsoft but Apple
You get the idea. The EC's recent record on big business looks a lot more like sour grapes than consumer protection. Earlier Microsoft settlements and the ongoing Intel
For more Foolish opinion on the EU:
- See why the EU really is becoming a banana republic.
- Smoke maker Altria Group was another EC target.
- How big a bite will the EU take of American business?