- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Wrong. The large companies form a cartel and decide what the masses will buy.

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on November 19, 1999 at 16:38:27:

In Reply to: The large companies *must* cater to *them*. posted by DonS on November 19, 1999 at 00:42:50:

: : Actually, I should have attacked this line of thinking a bit more vigorously in my post above.

: : You see things from the perspective of the CONSUMER---' I don't have to buy what the buisness sells or give them money if I don't want their product'---but you disregard the perspective of those who must SELL their labor-power.

: Don: Those who must "sell their labor-power" are consumers who buy things like computers and Microsoft Windows and other objects manufactured by large companies. The large companies *must* cater to *them*.

Let's look at the example of Windows.

Why did Windows sell; was it because mobs gathered outside Redmond demanding shoddy expensive software?

No. It was because one big firm (IBM) standardised which operating system (MS-DOS) would be sold with their hardware. The general public had no say in what decision was made; this is because real-world markets are not democratic, regardless of the free-marketeer's protests.

Microsoft got a foothold with MS-DOS, which turned into a mass market with Windows 3.1 and by the time Windows '95 came out, Windows was the dominant operating system around. Not because it was the best thing around, but because it was initially chosen as a standard for its ease of use by a big company.

The next trick that Microsoft played was to close down the market to their commercial competitors; Windows 95 contained code that would damage their competitor's software (especially DR-DOS and Wordperfect); they used this and their domination of the market to force their word-processing software (MS Word) into a dominant position in the marketplace.

When Microsoft finally woke up to the Internet that the rest of us had already been using for years, they decided they had to have a cut of that too; so they bundled Internet Exploder in with Windows 95 (to catch the new users) and cut deals with ISPs so that ISPs shipped Internet Exploder on their subscription disks/CDs and not Netscape; they also shipped a web server (Internet Information Server) that made Web pages look uglier unless they were viewed with Internet Exploder; and added their own extensions to HTML that meant Netscape couldn't read some IIS-run Web pages (try going to http://www.telinco.co.uk with Netscape; their official company line is "It may also be advisable to use Internet Explorer when viewing our page, as the site is not optimized for Netscape."

Microsoft has used its size and power - not to dominate the market by producing good software, but to dominate the market by "cutting off the air supply" to its competitors; by limiting the choice the ordinary customer has to choose which software they want to run on their PC.

You go to a PC dealer and try to buy a PC that doesn't have Microsoft Windows.

When you run up against a monopoly like that, the notion that customers have a choice goes out of the window.


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