A writer at gnxp thinks so:
Still, some of the recent ones are deserved, such as cloning a sheep and sequencing the human genome. Overall, though, the pattern is pretty clear — we haven’t invented jackshit for the past 30 years. With the two main monopolistic Ivory Towers torn down — one private and one public — it’s no surprise to see innovation at a historic low. Indeed, the last entries in the building / manufacturing and household categories date back to 1969 and 1974, respectively.
On the plus side, Microsoft and Google are pretty monopolistic, and they’ve been delivering cool new stuff at low cost (often for free — and good free, not “home brew” free). But they’re nowhere near as large as Bell Labs or the DoD was back in the good ol’ days. I’m sure that once our elected leaders reflect on the reality of invention, they’ll do the right thing and pump more funds into ballooning the state, as well as encouraging Microsoft, Google, and Verizon to merge into the next incarnation of monopoly-era AT&T.
Having recently reviewed Dr. Narain Gehani’s Bell Labs: Life in the Crown Jewel, it certainly appears that Bell Labs research profoundly suffered after the divestature of the 1980s and “trivestature” of the 1990s. Likewise, it is hard to think of anything very new in terms of computer science — most of what we had is refined version of what we had 15 years ago.
So, are some monopolies good for innovation? And if they are, what sort of monopolies should be encouraged?