American Consequences - August 2017


A better name for it might be “The Zipper Problem.” Kleenex does have 47% of the U.S. nose-blowing market, after all. “Zipper” was never even a corporation. The word was briefly trademarked by B.F. Goodrich in the 1920s, but only for use on rubber galoshes. They suffer from "The Kleenex Problem." Their names have become synonymous with certain kinds of products. Until I looked it up, I had a vague idea that there was an enormous “Zipper, Inc.” out there, and that if it ever got greedy and decided to charge $10 per interlocking tooth, we’d all be going around with our barn doors open and our dresses falling off. Apple has only 18% of the global smartphone market. And it would have less if its competitor Samsung hadn’t added the “liar, liar, pants of fire” feature to its Note 7 phones. Also, on a personal note, the Apple iPhone design reminds me of the featureless black monoliths that keep showing up and causing trouble in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey . (Yes, my children are threatening to

I repeat, 5%. Let’s compare that to a real monopoly – me. I’m a total monopoly at my house. (At least I hope so. The UPS man is very buff...) Anyway, I have complete monopolistic

control over retail sales to the O’Rourke household. (That is, if you don’t count my wife, my daughters, my son, and the UPS man who keeps bringing stuff


no one admits to ordering...) And do you know what my portion of those retail sales are? It may be more than 5%, but only because my tractor broke... Anyway, let’s give up on my comparison and declare, “Amazon is not a monopoly.” Same with Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Apple. Instead, they suffer from “The Kleenex Problem.” Their names have become synonymous with certain kinds of products. This is also true of some kindred (and, in one case, subsidiary) Mutant Capitalist companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Twitter, and YouTube. People with minds too small to contain more than one name for anything (e.g. politicians) assume that all e-commerce, computer operating systems, social media, search engines, smartphones, strangers taking you for a ride, unknown persons in the guest bedroom, incoherent thoughts had in the middle of the night, and time-wasting blurry videos we annoy our friends with are the products of monopolistic enterprise.

get me a Jitterbug for Christmas.) Microsoft might have once had a

monopolistic air about it, but Windows is no longer the leading, let alone the only, computer operating system. Google’s Android has 40% of the market versus 36% for Windows.

68 | August 2017

Made with FlippingBook Online document