Economist Jeffrey MacKie-Mason says Electronic Arts’ NFL monopoly has cost gamers $926 million over the last four years. Because the game publisher has an exclusive deal with the NFL to use teams, stadiums and player likenesses, no competitor can line up on level ground, and thus EA can charge $60 for its Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game every year, GamePolitics reports:
Reader Greg accidentally ran his iPhone through the washing machine. Whoops. Luckily, he still had his old BlackBerry from his days with T-Mobile, so he swapped in his AT&T SIM card to the BlackBerry and fired it up. Unfortunately, his BlackBerry was still locked by T-Mobile, and they didn’t feel like helping a former customer.
Snagging the best plane seat doesn’t always require an upgrade, thanks to a few handy tips from Condé Nast Traveler. Inside, how to avoid the dreaded middle seat and keep yourself entertained on the flight…
Starting tomorrow, Southwest will fly out of New York‘s LaGuardia airport, which hopefully means that flying between New York, Boston, Chicago, and Washington is about to get a whole lot cheaper.
Yesterday, four U.S. Senators sent a letter to FCC acting chairman Michael Copps requesting an investigation into whether exclusivity deals between handset makers and national carriers are ultimately good for consumers, and they plan to hold a hearing on the issue on Wednesday, June 16th. They join a growing number of people and organizations, including the Rural Cellular Association (RCA), who say exclusivity deals benefit no one but the carriers and manufacturers.
Either this Burger King in Miami takes the competition really, really seriously, or the owner is into some pretty freaky s#@t. The store gets bonus absurdity points for framing it so handsomely.
The city of Wilson, NC was tired of high internet, cable, and telephone prices, so they decided to do something about it. They started their own, city-owned, ISP. Now Time Warner Cable and Embarq have teamed up to convince North Carolina‘s legislature to propose bills outlawing community owned ISPs because the big guys cannot possibly compete.
Update: It turns out the special chips used in the headphone controls of the third generation Shuffle don’t contain any DRM after all, so any attempts at reverse-engineering won’t bring on the wrath of the DMCA.
“There is no indication of any change in the near future regarding the current state of competition. Market forces have not yet met the challenge of controlling price increases.”
Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of Sirius-XM. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new anti-consumer practices. To seek out new revenue streams and crowd out new competitors. To boldly safeguard the dangerous monopoly granted last night by the FCC.
The price of everything in the telecom world has fallen over the past decade, except for cable. Cable is now 77% more expensive than it was ten years ago, an increase that dwarfs the rate of inflation and makes telecom executives salivate. The Times looks with pity on all of us who splay our wallets wide for the industry, and asks if there’s any salvation other than à la carte pricing.
Peter writes to let us know that taco trucks in Los Angeles county now have to move to a new position every hour: “The county of Los Angeles has enacted some new legislation to prevent taco truck owners from staying in one spot, with penalties of a fine of up to $1000 or jail for failures to comply.” Why such a weird law? Because area restaurants say they’re stealing away customers. If you like your carne asada from the side of a truck, be prepared to start chasing them down as they circle through L.A. county in a weird Mexican-food carousel.
What does the XM-Sirius satellite radio merger mean for XM customers? Well, according to one customer service rep, it means mean prices are going to roughly double in May. Here’s what she said to one of our tipsters:
This is strictly confidential, but all the paperwork is signed and ready to go, and XM has fully acquired Sirius Radio. Come May, there will be a substantial price increase for XM Radio, as it will, in June or so, host all the Sirius channels. It would be best to simply extend your XM plan as we will honor your current contract price per month before we begin hosting the Sirius stations.
The tipster said he believed she said the price was going to double. Perhaps the customer service rep just wanted to score a renewal, but if true, it would certainly at least be ironic considering when the DOJ approved the deal was they said, “the evidence did not show that the merger would enable the parties to profitably increase prices to satellite radio customers.” However, reader comments on this post and this post over at Orbitcast say this customer service rep is full of pure baloney.
The DOJ has approved a merger between Sirius and XM satellite radio, ruling that there wasn’t enough evidence to show that it would result in higher prices for consumers. We’ll see. [OrbitCast]
Great news, America: Intel’s ultra-cheap Classmate PC isn’t just for impoverished third-world schoolchildren anymore! The chipmaker today announced plans to sell the notebook domestically in the coming months. Intel insists its sub-notebook isn’t designed to compete with the non-profit One Laptop Per Child project, which is powered by chips from Intel’s rival, AMD, but they have aggressively moved to undercut OLPC wherever possible. The laptop will likely cost Americans less than $500.
Yahoo rejects Microsoft’s takeover bid for reals for reals. We are safe from the threat of the creation of the world’s largest, crappiest, search engine…for now. [AP]