Free-Market Lessons from the Gadget Boom

For years, the press was filled with stories about how the U.S. had fallen behind Europe in wireless.  A 1999 TIME article entitled "Why Your Cell Phone Stinks" boasted that Europeans routinely used their mobile phones to pay bills, make reservations, and share digital photos.  Americans, meanwhile, were still catching up with Europeans in text messaging. Europe's wireless industry was booming.  Unlike in the U.S., nearly everyone in Europe had mobile phones, and they worked on all mobile networks, because every phone manufacturer and every mobile network operator used the exact same technology.  The lesson, according to the pundits, was that markets for new technologies do best when solutions are developed by industry-wide panels of experts and technical standards are enforced by governments. Wireless was growing in the U.S., but at a slower rate.  The pundits grumbled that new technologies do not fare as well in the U.S. because of what they called "market...(Read Full Article)

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