Computer Industry

Overview

No industry has seen as much growth and dramatic change in the post-war era as the computer industry. Thousands of upstart hardware and software firms developed new products, challenging each other as well as the long-established firms for consumers’ loyalty. As a result, it has been argued that the pace of technological change would make antitrust concerns irrelevant in the computer industry.

With the exception of the government’s 1969 monopolization case against IBM, the computer industry was largely free of antitrust scrutiny and private litigation for its first four decades, until the late 1980s. As a decade of Microsoft litigation has shown, the agencies left no doubt about their concerns regarding the possibility that firms might abuse or enhance market power. More recently, they have also expanded their focus to include the strategic use and abuse of intellectual property, including the capture or abuse of industry standards setting processes. Needless to say, the number of private actions by various parties has increased, as well.

Experience

Economists at EI have substantial expertise in every aspect of the computer industry. EI economists have conducted economic analyses of computer industries in conjunction with mergers, joint ventures, and monopolization litigation. For example, EI economists conducted analyses relating to the formation of the Open Software Foundation, a broad-based industry joint venture that developed an alternative to the Unix operating system; Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of Apollo Computer; EDS’s case against Computer Associates; NCR’s defense against takeover by AT&T; and Elite’s attempted acquisition of CMS (time and billing software). Specific EI expertise includes products such as:

  • Microprocessors
  • Technical work stations
  • Operating systems
  • Graphical user interfaces
  • Mainframe systems software
  • Relational databases
  • PC utility software
  • Semiconductors
  • Semiconductor equipment
  • Semiconductor simulation software
  • Tax preparation software
  • Storage devices
  • Computer languages
  • Terminals
  • Keyboards