A Curious Mind W(o/a)nders

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Yahoo Mail beta, Big G and Monopolies

Yahoo has launched a new Yahoo Mail beta and it's available to only select beta testers as of now. You can click on 'What's New' after logging into Yahoo and sign-up for beta and wait for your turn. It's supposed to have many Outlook-like features and according to some users may be better than Gmail (better is very relative though) . For more on this refer http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/ptech-20050922.html .

Well it's funny to see Yahoo as a challenger and GMail as the benchmark when just a couple of years back it was vice-versa. But Google has become the benchmark in many fields, well it's fast emerging as the next monopoly in the computing space. Have nothing against monopolies as long as they give service greater-than-or-equal-to (opportunity cost :-)) the service I'd get without them.

This brings me to the basic issue which arouses my curiosity is this: Is it possible that monopolies continue to provide the best possible service in the absence of any threat. If no, what minimal level of threat is required?
Can one create precise realistic mathematical equations for this, don't know if Game Theory has anything related to this. Don't tell me to simulate the stuff, I'm not talking about that.

When displacing existing players, it is necessary to provide a level of satisfaction to users atleast equal to what is provided by these players, so there's a benchmark. Once a monopoly happens, how do I define a benchmark other than through hypothetical deductions. But a monopoly in a lucrative market which underperforms for long enough is bound to be threatened and eventually bow out if it doesn't improve. Well IE faces the threat of Mozilla now.

But it is during the monopoly and bowing out phase that the consumers suffer. Very few, whether organisations or individuals, have the gumption to gracefully accept shortcomings and bow out when they realise it. And this natural tendency combined with the unusual powers of a monopoly make things a little scary for the consumers.

Now to a more basic question, can normal humans or groups of humans associate/perform in the absence of external motivation?
And without a tendency to dominate, would there be any human progress at all? But what would all this progress lead to, some religions and doctrines predict a state of tranquility wherein humans would be at peace with themselves and with others, without any tendency to dominate.

Funny isn't it? Reminds me of Lord Shiva's dance and the hindu trinity.

Ah! where have I reached, from Yahoo to the Gods!!! That's the power of wandering while you wonder :-)).


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