Friday, February 21, 2014

Forget about cable, let's talk about peanut butter pretzels!!

While we were all wintering on the couch in front of the Olympics, apparently ConAgra snuck in and cornered the market for peanut butter pretzels.  This NPR piece tells the sad story.  The story raises a question that has puzzled me before, particularly in connection with intellectual property, whether antitrust is an appropriate mechanism for dealing with the "back end" problem when one enters into a joint venture with a monopolist.  It is a perennial problem for software designers who build apps that Microsoft/Google/whatever, develop a market, and then are unceremoneously ejected from the platform.  The classic example is Real Audio (who??) the media player before Internet Explorer . . .

Here, interestingly, the monopolist is ConAgra, but the platform is Trader Joe's. 

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