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A Lack of Trust

A Lack of Trust

Last week I wrote a story about the anti-trust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against Swedish company Assa Abloy to prevent their acquisition of the hardware and home improvement division of Spectrum Brand Holdings. 

To give you an idea of the tone for this blog my other titles were, “Passing Go” and “Hungry, Hungry Hippos”.

Preaching a parable about corporate greed would be misplaced in a B2B focused publication however, so I would instead present a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming a monopoly. Which is very much the trajectory Assa Abloy would be on, lets be clear. There acquisition would net them 2/3 of the premium mechanical door market and more than 50% in smart locks. It’s not even the first monopoly opposition they’ve faced! 14 years ago, to the month, Swedish authorities were moving to block plans by Assa Abloy to buy Copiax, a lock and security wholesaler after buying 20% of that company earlier in 2008. Since Copiax appears to still be running ill assume the swedes were successful in putting the kibosh on that deal.

As Jonathan Kanter with the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division pointed out, a monopoly will inevitably drive prices up and quality down. Now corporations may not be people, but they definitely behave the same way a hungry toddler does and will actively work against their best interest to satisfy their wants. A monopoly will deliver profits, without question. It will also erode confidence in your product and drive away innovators from your business. The security industry is an innovate or die kind of joint so that’s already a death sentence.

It also means the first company to come along with a better idea and product that you can’t buy will obsolete you. Don’t believe me? Look at cable television. The old joke when I was a kid was you had a million channels, but nothing was on. You paid the subscription though because it was the only game in town. Cue the arrival of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu and now cable television is breathing it’s dying gasp. I can tell you right now I didn’t stop to consider how the cable company felt when I cut the cord and dropped a $100 monthly bill off my balance, and customers fleeing to a superior competitor won’t either.

Ironically those same streaming services will find themselves being forced to bundle their services the same way that cable did or risk their customers sailing the high seas. Because who wants to pay for 50 different streaming services and remember all those passwords? No one, we’ve covered that topic before.

They can’t be trusted to come to the right conclusion on their own as history has shown, that’s where government steps in. So, it’s in Assa Abloy, the consumer, and ultimately the industry’s best interest to eat their vegetables and share their toys. If not, they’ll inevitably get put in time out like AT&T and Standard Oil.

Monopoly? That’s a paddlin’.


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