Why does this sound so familiar? The South Korean government fined Motley Fool Inside Value pick Microsoft
Where have I heard this before?
Oh yeah! This is the same, ridiculous, logic-challenged policy that was pursued by the People's Republic of the EU. Korea makes the same silly claim that the coupling of the media player (and the messaging system) with the operating system somehow constitutes "abuse of market dominant position."
Whew. The wages of success, eh? Watch out, Apple
As you remember, Microsoft had to shell out a pile of money to settle its EU dispute, as well as produce a playerless version of the OS. Then, when Microsoft tried to engage in a little truth in advertising and call it "Windows XP Reduced Media Edition," the Europeos had a fit about that too. The resulting product, Windows XP N, has been a complete flop according to every report I've seen, with no demand among computer manufacturers and little from consumers either. Thank goodness the Europeans spent millions, and extracted millions more from Microsoft, to guarantee access to a product that no one wants.
Apparently, reality doesn't matter in politics anywhere. The same barely-watered-down version is what Korea now demands as well. Well, that country wants a pair of replacement versions. One without the offending gizmos, and another with Web links to competing software.
Yes, the whole thing is still laughable. Can you imagine the bureaucrats ordering Apple to yank iTunes off its computers -- even though it really is the biggest thing in music downloads? Even though it's far more restrictive in its selling practices than Windows Media player, which sends you to competing music stores such as Wal-Mart's
Does anyone really think the Koreans, who are among the world's most savvy and enthusiastic Web users, with some of the world's fastest Internet access, are suffering any kind of hardship having to download or access the ubiquitous and free alternatives from the likes of RealNetworks
But then, this isn't really about competition in media software. It's about taking swipes at a company no one holds dear. (Microsoft, meet Phillip Morris ...) Everyone's played the game, Microsoft has planned for it for years, and though it plans to fight this one, I'd almost rather see them just pony up the cash. With this paltry $32 million slap, Microsoft shareholders would have one less batch of disgruntled policy wonks to worry about. But on the other hand, roll over for too many government shakedowns, and you can be sure another one will be right on the horizon.
For related Foolishness:
- Microsoft has had the creepy crawlies for a while.
- Hey, the Europeans thought an additional install CD was too much work for users.
- Mr. Softy & AOL doesn't seem so crazy to me.
Seth Jayson has always thought the flap about Media Player was insane. At the time of publication, he had shares of Microsoft but no position in any other company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.