A Wild and Crazy Monopolist …
Steve Martin once said, “The difference between a good comedian and a great one is ti … ming, tiiiii-ming, timmm-ing . . . timing!” If that’s the case, Microsoft’s comedic timing is impeccable.
In a status report filed with Federal antitrust regulators yesterday, Microsoft (MSFT) said it had done much to comply with its 2002 antitrust consent decree and generally applauded its efforts toward interoperability and fair competition.
In the states, perhaps. But apparently not in Asia. Because not 24 hours later, China’s State Intellectual Property Office said it’s investigating the software giant for discriminatory pricing. And according to the Shanghai Securities News, it may sue Microsoft under a new antitrust law scheduled to go into effect Aug. 1.
“On the one hand, global software firms, taking advantage of their monopoly position, set unreasonably high prices for genuine software, while on the other hand, they criticize Chinese for poor copyright awareness,” an unnamed source told the publication. “This is abnormal. With the anti-monopoly law in place, [the] Chinese government and companies have the obligation and right to correct the situation.”
Of course, it’s also “abnormal” for Windows Vista to be priced at $2.50 a copy, yet copies of the OS are widely available in China at that price. Syndicates that distribute more than $2 billion worth of counterfeit Microsoft software aren’t exactly normal either, but you’ll find those in China as well. The FBI did. Which is not to say that China is wrong to complain of Microsoft’s unreasonably high prices–just laughably vindictive in the way it’s gone about it.