One year ago, I had the opportunity of visiting a place in Redmond, WA that my eyes couldn’t believe, Microsoft’s House of the Future. One thing I can tell you is that Jetsons‘ home exists, well, at least its prototype. And, the features I could see first hand depend in great measure of RFID (or Radio-frequency Identification) devices and light (particularly from LEDs – light-emitting diodes) capable to recognize/transmit coded information. Those who are familiar with supply chain management know that Wal-mart has led the industry forcing to implement RFID devices to empower its logistics system, and now it is everywhere (most probably you have one of such devices to pay toll in the highways).
According to Microsoft’s spokesperson, when that house was created they used a mid-range imagination – ten years term – and almost commercially available devices. However, one limitation was how to print bar codes or QR codes in limited or minuscule spaces, and where to install readers that enable the information stored in such codes. The first one has been successfully overcame by scientists with the so-called “passive RFID ink” and the second one is almost a reality. Scientists are aiming to replace all incandescent and fluorescent lights for LEDs, which having ten thousand times more capacity than radio waves to transmit information will become the source of light installed everywhere capable to read and transmit huge amount of data.
I am very excited because I now know that what engineers and scientists imagined in Redmond, WA soon will be part of our daily life. Twenty years ago, cellphones were sci-fi and now they are real and have amazing capabilities (smartphones). I can imagine now how amazing will be my own Jetsons-like house in five years from now.
There is a brighter future around the corner, don’t miss this video
The European Court of Justice ultimately ruled that Microsoft was in violation of EU anti-trust laws (like the US court previously did)? Is Microsoft a monopoly that has abused its dominant position to stifle competition and to gain unfairly from its monopoly status?
I believe Microsoft is not a monopoly but a “quasi-monopoly”. Microsoft has managed its innovative and useful ideas to transform the society. In the early 80’s, IBM dominated the computer world both for corporate and personal use. According to Gregory Bresiger, “One part of the regulatory argument is that almost all big corporations can exercise quasi-monopoly powers…This could happen whenever a company or an owner could give his product a unique advantage…” [Gregory Bresiger. Taken from http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0610e.asp on January 24, 2008]
As an entrepreneur myself, I have the opinion that free market rules are the basis of our capitalist society, and if a company finds a niche and/or a unique advantage should be free to use it unless it produces damages to the community at large. I think that most of the legal battles Microsoft have faced, and still faces, are reactions from companies that did not have the ability to leverage from their
own products and feels that once Microsoft has succeeded with similar products then they can take a bite of the cake.
Microsoft’s competitors are not “angels in paradise” they are chasing an ultimate corporate benefit from all those law suites. They are just play the game and Microsoft will appealed to any superior instance they can –because they can afford it – in order to gain the time to market its products and make them profitable projects.
For me, Microsoft has not “abused its dominant position to stifle competition” nor “gain unfairly from its monopoly status”. Microsoft has excelled in the field of marketing as well as in the scientific arena.
Should it be a function of government to ensure a level-playing-field in certain markets? Why or why not?
I believe that governments are authorities with a mandate to assure countries’ well-being and enforce rules of conduct. Being monopoly a potential trade behavior with pernicious consequences to society, governments needs to participate in ensuring “level-playing-field in certain markets” but should give enough freedom to allow competitiveness and creativity.