So I'm curious what you guys think about this - is competition a bad thing? There are two main sagas in the tech world that I've been following lately, and alot of the opinions that I've been reading on forums and in articles have me questioning what I thought was a very fundamental and sound concept - When companies compete with each other it's a good thing for consumers.
When two companies compete with each other in providing a similar service or product to consumers, doesn't this usually result in a better product and cheaper prices for the consumer? Isn't that the whole idea behind competition, and our economy in general?
Saga 1 - Intel vs AMD in the CPU market
Everyone knows that Intel has the leg up in the CPU market at the moment. They're producing the fastest chips out there, and really at the best price-performance ratios (though the latter is arguable). I can't even count how many opinions and threads I've seen lately with consumers just wishing that one company of the other would take over and end that war - this is mostly on the Intel side since they're winning at the moment, but I've seen it all over - people want a winner!
You know, it wasn't too long ago that AMD had the upper hand, and not too long before then that Intel was winning, and so on. This war has been going on for more than ten years at least. I've only seen two things come out of the war - better processors at cheaper prices. AMD and Intel are always trying to outdo each other and this has resulted in huge advances in CPU technology and prices staying at a reasonable level. Everything from the manufacturing process, to the die size, to power consumption to just overall speed has improved dramatically over the past few years.
Do you think think that if Intel had bought out AMD 8 years ago that we'd be seeing 3 GHz speeds on a 45mm core processor?? Not a chance in hell.
It's that constant competition between the two companies that put us where we are today.
Saga 2 - HD DVD vs Blu Ray (yeah, I'm going there)
The same thing above applies here as well. Look at all the advances in HDM technology and the prices you can find on media. Anyone still got a first run copy of The Fifth Element on Blu Ray - wow what a POS! I'm sure the same crappy releases existed on the HD DVD side as well originally. You've got improving profiles on Blu Ray giving you more functionality, TrueHD across the board, and you can get both types of media for about the same prices as standard DVD if you shop around now.
Where would we be at now if either HD DVD or Blu Ray had won the war two years ago? I'm sure we'd get it all worked out eventually, and in fact we're still working out all the kinds, but it's the prospect of your competitor beating you to the punch that drives the innovation that gets these things resolved and gets the prices down sooner rather than later.
Hell, look at the prices of the players, they've all been cut in thirds in less than a couple years. You think we'd be seeing $300 Blu Ray players if Sony had won 2 years ago? Sure they'd eventually make it into this price range, but not any time soon.
One could argue that DVD will still be a competitor with whichever format wins the war I suppose, and that prices on HD stuff will still remain low to try and compete with DVD. I don't fully buy that, but time will tell.
I 'get' that in the case of Blu Ray vs HD DVD the consumer is at a bit of a disadvantage because they have to buy two players. While that is an additional up front expense, I believe that factoring in only the cost of the players is a bit shortsighted, especially given that reasonable cost at which at least one of the players has been available for quite some time now.
If I have to spend an extra $200 up front, but a) I can recoup the costs in cheaper media over time, b) it results in a better technology overall, and c) that player can also do the job of regular DVD playback as good as anything else in it's price range - I'm okay with that.
Yes, I understand that standardization also has great benefits. it makes things less expensive to produce and easier to support. I can especially understand the argument of standardization in regards to the HD DVD vs Blu Ray issue. My only point here would be this. If we were truly comparing apples to apples and the only difference between the two was the actual physical media itself, then I'd definitely be in favor of standardization, but we're not there. The two are different technologies altogether, and there are still functional differences between the two. Yes, those functionality gaps are closing, but that's because the two technologies have been competing for the past two years - THAT"S MY WHOLE POINT!
Maybe the two technologies are close enough that standardization is possible, and maybe there's nothing further to be gained by continue competition. I don't know the answer to that - DO YOU?
Maybe I'm not 'getting it', but I've always viewed competition amongst companies as ultimately advantageous for the consumers:
XBOX 360 vs PS3 vs WiiTake any of those groupings, and remove all but one option. Do you really think you'd have as good of a product and as low of a price?
Ford vs GM vs Toyota
Denon vs HK vs Onkyo
Nikon vs Canon
Isn't there a law or something about monopoly?
My whole point isn't whether or not it's time for an end to the format war or time for Intel to take over. My point is that people seem to be really quick to want a universal standard for everything - even possibly at the expense of innovation, product advancement, or long term price stability.
I'm not an economist or an antitrust lawyer - that's just things the way I see them. I appear to be in the minority, so I'm open to your thoughts...