Government Approval for AOL/Netscape/Sun Deal
Friday March 12th, 1999
#6 A long, tiresome reaction...
by Anonymous Howard
Saturday March 13th, 1999 3:34 AM
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I've been against this whole AOL/Netscape buyout merger thing from the beginning. AOL's got quite a reputation as a lowest-common-denominator, priprietary-lovin' company with a penchant for stifling free speech (see <http://www.aolsucks.com>). Worst of all is their merciless, inhumane onslaught of disks and CDs! In contrast, Netscape was such a GOOD thing for the Internet...
So now AOL buys Netscape's portal and soon, for millions of people, they will control in one package (1) the ISP, (2) the portal, and (3) the browser. That's REALLY scary. It reminds me of the early 1920s, when the movie studios controlled the whole entertainment pipeline from development to production to distribution (back then, the studios "owned" the writers, the actors, the films, even the theatres!). The government wisely broke that system up in 1948.
I don't like the idea of AOL owning so many levels of the user's online experience either. It suggests to me that AOL can leverage and "embrace and extend" that power any way they want. Couldn't they load their CDs with their branded versions of Mozilla, "extending" the standards, and just blitz America with it? (Correct me if I'm wrong, but the NPL will let them do this, won't it?) AOL's version will probably be THE distribution of Mozilla for most people-- The official "Netscape" Mozilla 5.0-- but will it have a few proprietary "enhancements" and "extras"? Who knows what AOL will feel like "extending" into it.
You can argue that the source is open, so there will be lots of mozilla distributions to compete, and AOL will want to keep their version open. But as any independent filmmaker or struggling novelist knows, distribution is EVERYTHING. You can have written the best book in the world, but if you can't find a distributor, it doesn't matter; the world will never know about it. (I mean, even if you put it free on your home page you'll get some readers maybe, but it's not the same as having it promoted by Amazon.com)
Like a movie studio on a May opening weekend, AOL can saturate the hell out of us and, with the marketing power of their PORTAL and CDs, drown out the competition.
Except for Microsoft, of course. But our solution to the microsoft monopoly shouldn't be to create MORE Microsofts.
Phew. I feel like a struggling novelist now! Well, I hope that all made sense.