Could Apple eventually gain monopoly status in one or more businesses, and become as "evil" (or worse) as Microsoft was when regulators went after them in the 1990s? Windows pundit Paul Thurrott thinks so, and thinks it's time to act now before it's too late.
Now, Thurrott is an interesting dichotomy, well-balanced on his Windows Weekly podcast yet Dvorak'ian in link-baiting on his blog. He's pro Microsoft all the way, but has still been unable to find anything as compelling as the iPhone or iPod in their respective spaces. So, assuming we're dealing with the more even handed podcasting and iPhone-using Thurrott, and we're not just biting his baited link, his argument here is this:
until very recently, Apple was the underdog, and they've been the underdog for almost their entire existence. This creates a certain mindset, and under Steve Jobs especially, it's created a very aggressive competitive spirit. This aggressiveness is fine when you are literally the underdog, just as was the case with Microsoft early in its career and it was trying to wrest the PC industry from IBM, Lotus, WordPerfect, and other tech dinosaurs. But once you have a dominant market position, that aggressive behavior--so important for an up-and-comer--isn't just bad, it's illegal. It's just hard to turn it off when it's been part of the corporate psyche for so long.
With this obvious comparison of two very similarly belligerent companies--Microsoft of the mid-1990s and Apple of today--in mind, I think the time has come to rein Apple in. To examine Apple's exclusive relationships with wireless carriers. To force it to open up iTunes to competing players, and its iPhone and iPod devices to competing software and services. If we don't do this now, it will only be more difficult in the future. All you have to do is look at Microsoft's never-ending antitrust saga--which has now stretched on for 15 years, involved regulatory bodies on three continents, and gone on far longer than its actual bad behavior--to see why it's time.