Andrew Nunnelly

Comcast and Time Warner are merging. The Internet exploded: No one could contemplate this impending event without the word “monopoly” instantaneously popping up in the brain.

Merger, monopoly. Potato, potato. Let’s call the whole thing off, right?

Perhaps we should be thinking about it slightly differently: Does anyone, even for a moment, believe that non-government organizations are capable of winning, ad-infinitum — whether or not they break laws? Is there some point at which companies are no longer susceptible to the laws of physics?

Of course not. And even governments get overthrown.

Why do monopolies engender fear? The assumption is that, in the absence of competition, a business can manipulate prices, stifle innovation, and neglect the customer experience. Just like the DMV!

Or Microsoft. Or AOL. Or Myspace. Or taxi companies.

They might get away with it in the short run. But in the long run, when companies fail to continue to deliver an experience that customers want (whether via product, service, or otherwise) — someone else will… and those incumbents can enjoy the feeling of their stomachs rising into their throats as they fall off a cliff. Sure, Microsoft took a couple kicks to the ribs from the US Government and its anti-trust laws, but the reality is: it got complacent at the top. By the time it realized people were catching up, it was already too late.

Cable companies are notorious for bad customer experience. A Comcast-Time Warner merger won’t change that. Nor will a monopoly. Even now, ComWarner has competition. Maybe it’s not serious competition yet. But if this newly conceived cable juggernaut decides to rest on its laurels — well, just like every other big company that’s neglected the experience that they provide to their customers — they should watch the throne. Because someone is coming to knock them off. And ComWarner won’t pass go, and it won’t collect $200.

Photo credit: John Morgan