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Comment Re:VOIP sucks. (Score 1) 426

Not all ISPs suck. On my Verizon FiOS connection in the DC area, we pay for 25/15 and can get 25/20 continuously, any time of day. Last week I uploaded over 750 GB and downloaded 250 GB. I've downloaded for 12+ hours continuously at 25-26 Mbit/sec with no drops in speeds. I can also upload at 20 Mbit/sec continuously without getting my service dropped, or speed capped.

While Comcast has its crappy 250 GB cap, I can still do 12 Mbit/sec down continuously on their cheapest plan in New Haven, CT.

Comment Re:Monopoly or not. (Score 3, Insightful) 439

It's only anti-competitive if they have a monopoly in the OS market, which they do not, or alternatively, if it's considered an illegal tying arrangement. As for an OS monopoly, they hold 5% or less of the market which is clearly not a monopoly under US antitrust caselaw. As for tying, that argument only works if you can show that there is no benefit to be had through selling the hardware and software as one product.

The problem with your argument is that under current US law, it almost certainly wouldn't be considered an illegal tying arrangement. There is no evidence that the primary purpose of their tying software + hardware is to artificially prop up the price of either. They can make a plausible argument that having control of the hardware allows them to provide a more unified and consistent experience for buyers. With a small set of Apple-authorized hardware, weird incompatibilities that exist on Linux and Windows due to the large hardware-base they have to support, can be minimized or prevented entirely. There is some value-added by selling hardware + software together, and Apple can certainly argue that selling the OS alone will harm their brand name and reputation due to complaints from users using non-authorized hardware.

In addition, this has to do with distribution and not the end-user. You can go out and buy OS X and install it on any hardware you want. The case doesn't affect YOUR rights. Pystar illegally redistributed OS X by installing it once, and using cloned copies. This really has little to do with the freedom of the home user.

In any case, this is not illegal tying in the sense used by the U.S. antitrust law. BTW, "tying" is a per se violation of the Sherman Antitrust act. You don't see many tying cases, however, because there are generally good arguments why you would sell two seemingly separate products as one.

Comment Re:How about the same - for computers? (Score 1) 169

Your views on being free to make a choice are completely valid, and I share them. As I said, the opt-out system is NOT my idea, and in fact I oppose it. I would prefer either an opt-in system or one which requires you to make a choice for the reasons you eloquently described.

As for the ballot screen, there is a reason that the EU is going after MS for its browser, and not for Paint, Windows Media Player or Notepad. They had and continue to hold a significant monopoly in the browser market. That market is extremely important.

As far as I know, they do not hold a monopoly in the market for audio and video playback software. Many people use iTunes, Winamp etc. to play their music, and while WMP may be the default choice, I know many people that use alternative choices. Your choice of video player is also not as important as your choice of browser since there are no incompatibilities requiring developers to create video files specifically for WMP.

So, MS had and continues to hold a monopoly in the very important browser market.

MS has no monopoly on graphics editing programs. Paint is a toy, nothing more.

MS has no monopoly in video and audio playback software.

MS has no monopoly on PVR software (e.g. MythTV, SageTV, Mediaportal etc. quite popular)

MS DOES have a monopoly in the word processing market, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the EU tackle that next. I found it particularly ironic that MS's agreement with the EU was releaed in the form of a Word *.doc rather than an .odf or .pdf.

Comment Re:How about the same - for computers? (Score 1) 169

This is the first time I've been marked troll. I fail to see how it's a troll. Seems to me like it's "-1 Disagree", but whatever. It's Slashdot.

Anyways, I want to respond to a few points. Yes, I know Europe is not a country! I was referring to Europe as each country has different policies, but many of the nations that make up the EU and Europe do have opt-out systems.

If you think I'm full of shit, have a look at this article and graph from Harvard and tell me it's a total coincidence:

Graph: http://www.iq.harvard.edu/blog/sss/donor_default.jpg

Article: http://www.iq.harvard.edu/blog/sss/archives/2008/04/do_defaults_sav.shtml

Comment Re:How about the same - for computers? (Score 1) 169

To be clear, Sunstein argues against the model you discussed because he believes that forcing people to simply elect a choice may have 2nd order externalities - in this case - the psychological harm of having to think about your potential death.

Sunstein actually spoke to my Behavioral Law & Economics Class at Yale Law School, taught by one of his colleagues, Christine Jolls. I proposed precisely the system you described, and that was his response. I don't buy it. I think asking people maximizes liberty, and the cost of making a decision is nominal.

Comment Re:How about the same - for computers? (Score 1) 169

That's actually neither "opt-in" nor "opt-out". In that system, you are forced to choose, whereas in either of the former systems, you can do nothing. Sunstein argues that many people would rather the decision be made for them because the topic of organ donation brings up terrible thoughts of one's death and mutilation. I don't really buy that. As far as I'm aware, in the US, you are not asked. You have to ask to be an organ donor.

However, if you die in a hospital, the doctor will likely ask your family to donate your organs.

Comment Re:How about the same - for computers? (Score 2, Interesting) 169

The EU believes that simply making it obvious to users that a) there are choices and b) that installing and using another browser is easy to do, and in no way abnormal or dangerous.

If MS thought that the ballot screen wouldn't affect it's IE user base, than it wouldn't have fought so hard to ban it. In fact, they offered to sell the OS with NO BROWSER as an alternative to providing a ballot screen!

In addition, MS has refused to provide a ballot screen to non-EU users. North America, for example, will NOT get the ballot. Why fight the ballot so hard if it's going to have no impact? I think MS believes it will have an impact, and therefore is attempting to limit it to as few users as possible.

It's incredible how few people know that alternative browsers exist. I've heard people refer to IE as "the internet" or alternatively refer to any browser as IE/Explorer/Internet Explorer. IE, to many non-technical users, is synonymous with the browser. It's like saying "kleenex" whem you mean "tissue".

And there are a LOT of users that use IE, with knowledge of alternatives, out of sheer resistance to change. If they saw a ballot screen when they got a new computer rather than just IE, they might be willing to try something else.

Behavioral Law & Economics has shown that pretty much any default position is going to significantly impact user decisions. For example, in the US we have an "opt in" system with regard to organ donation and around 10-15% participation. In Europe, there's an "opt out" system with 80-90% participation. There may be cultural differences, but it's likely that most of the difference is merely due to the impact of opt-in/opt-out.

That's why academics like Cass Sunstein at Harvard have suggested that a default position of doing nothing is actually a non-neutral starting point. He argues, for example, that employees should automatically be signed up for a 401(k), and have the choice to opt-out, because when individuals are asked in studies whether they want to participate in such a program, the vast majority say yes, yet participation is FAR higher when opt-out is the default.

Comment Re:How about the same - for computers? (Score 4, Interesting) 169

As a law student that has taken Antitrust law, I can confirm that that IS the logic. Essentially, it is not illegal to maintain a policy by historic accident, market preference, or even government fiat. However, it is illegal to leverage your monopoly in one area to create a monopoly in another field or to use anticompetitive tactics to maintain your monopoly.

For example, if MS refused to sell Windows 7 licenses to companies that also sold pre-installed Linux computers, that would likely be an antitrust violation, because MS would be maintaining its monopoly by anti competitive means rather than maintaining it as a result of mere customer preference.

However, IE would not be in the dominant position it is today if it weren't for MS's use of its OS monopoly to create a monopoly in the browser market. The EU wants users to have a choice of browsers to prevent just this behavior. Europe also generally has much higher Firefox penetration than the US, so I would not' be surprised if this does have an impact.

Comment Re:We'll just get used to it (Score 1) 412

Except, of course, in ABX testing, the vast majority of people can't differentiate between 128 kbit encoded MP3's let alone 256 kbit/V0 encoded MP3s. Doesn't iTunes now provide 256 kbit AAC for all its offerings? I doubt almost anyone can differentiate between a 256 kbit MP3/AAC/Vorbis file and its CD source.

Also, most people are listening on low-end computer speakers or cheap headphones. These ABX tests are done with professional quality headphones, and yet people still can't hear the difference.

And, if you insist on quality, there is nothing stopping you from ripping your CDs to FLAC/APE/Apple Lossless. The latter is supported on iPods/Touch.

Comment Re:Focus group... (Score 1) 412

Didn't they roll out GPON as well, so they should have immense bandwidth. 2.5 Gbit down/1.5 Gbit upload / 32 provides some serious bandwidth per user. Verizon said that even before the upgrade they could provide 100 Mbit down, but there wasn't sufficient market demand (i.e. not enough people willing to pay the cost of the service). They did, however, upgrade their routers to support 175 Mbit sustained speeds through the firewall on the WAN. From what I've heard on Slashdot, the trusty old WRT54GL has trouble doing more than 25 Mbit on the WAN.

Currently, my gf's apt has 25/15. They offer 50/20 service but it just isn't cost justified. It's $65 for 25/15, and after some customer service issues, my gf got it down to effectively $40 ($95 for the HD TV service + HBO + 3 DVR boxes + 25/15 Internet). It would have been $130/mo just to get 50/20.

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