Cable-Cutters Discover Rip-offs by Cable Television Companies

We at Technology Bloopers are tired of being ripped off and we’re not going to take it anymore! We were paying Comcast a total of $86 per month for our home office business account and a whopping $156 per month for our TV. To add insult to injury, the user interface for selecting movies was not only hard to use but contained annoying videos unrelated to our searching for movies. Fortunately, this interface had annoyed us to the breaking point (and our aging DLP chip in our rear-projection TV set had lost a lot of its tiny “fingers”, looking increasingly like a starry night all the time) so that we had very recently contracted with a home theater installer who understood the pricing structure of Comcast. He arranged a deal with a total cost per month of about $60, compared to the former total of $242.

Admittedly, a lot of the savings came from removing the TV part (we have little interest in TV most of the time, and resent paying a huge fee for it). And for the small amount of TV there is a little-known, but FREE, alternative that provides most of the programming—an antenna (either indoor or outdoor.) So a large fraction of people are paying huge fees for something that is free. (Incidentally, both alternatives deliver a lot of advertising.)

By coincidence, the Wall Street Journal’s new Personal Technology columnist, David Pierce, chose as his first column (on February 15) to discuss the various alternatives to cable TV that use the Internet but are considerably less pricey.

Increasing Overlap of Tech Giants

Question: When you’ve joined the $100+ billion market cap club, what do you do next? Answer: You start invading the other members’ territories (e.g., Amazon is now chasing the digital advertising business that Facebook and Google make billions of dollars from) AND you hire a bunch of pricey lawyers to defend you against antitrust suits.

This club is pretty exclusive today, with American members including mainly Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Netflix. They are so big that to grow significantly they have to look for other big markets (like cloud computing or self-driving cars or Hollywood-type movies) to enter, and most of those big markets are already occupied by other club members or non-member already-large specialists. What are the bloopers here? A classical one would be monopoly/oligopoly pricing and/or restraint of trade. But perhaps more important might be the opportunities lost by a failure to allocate capital to creating useful NEW-AND-DIFFERENT products and services.