01 May 2008

Multiple Implementations vs. Multiple Standards

I've written many times about the distinction between multiple competing impementations of a standard, which promote competition because there are no switching costs, and multiple standards, which promote lock-in. But it seems that some people just don't get this simple idea:

The “South African Bureau of Standards” (SABS) approved the Open Document Format (ODF) on Friday 18 April as an official national standard. This adoption, if implemented, will reduce choice, decrease the benefits of open competition and thwart innovation. The irony here is that South Africa is moving in a direction which stands in stark relief to the reality of the highly dynamic market, with some 40 different formats available today.

“Multiple co-existing standards as opposed to only one standard should be favoured in the interest of users. The markets are the most efficient in creating standards and it should stay within the exclusive hands of the market”, Hugo Lueders explains.

And which bunch of geniuses put this nonsense together? Why, our old friends CompTIA, which has by now given up any pretense of offering objective comment on the computer market, and is simply a vehicle for crude Microsoft propaganda. At least their desperation in the face of rising open standards like ODF are driving them out into the open for all to see. (Via Rob Weir.)

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