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Samsung, Toshiba, Others Accused of LCD Price-Fixing

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-happened-to-be-in-the-same-hotel dept.

Crime 269

GovTechGuy writes "Toshiba, Samsung, Sharp, LG and other major technology companies allegedly colluded to fix the prices of LCD screens used in televisions and computers, according to an antitrust suit filed Friday by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The complaint alleges that top-level executives at those firms attended secret meetings on a monthly or quarterly basis where they agreed upon minimum prices, price targets, increases and rates to be charged to specific computer manufacturers. The suit also accuses the companies of exchanging product information, agreeing to output levels and keeping prices artificially high by avoiding competition. Cuomo is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and punitive charges for the alleged overcharging of state institutions."

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We will see... (4, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168674)

We will see what comes out in court, although I'm holding back judgement until I see the evidence. If they are doing what the complaint alleges, then yes, fine them enough to discourage them (and others) in the future, ie: heavily. Personally I'm glad to see a bit of consumer protection going on for a change. The FTC has become pretty much useless over the last few decades.

Not enough (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33168766)

Also, require them to sell their crap at lower prices, otherwise they will just keep on overcharging without any more meetings.

Punish price-fixing by price-fixing, at least for a period.

Oh and while you are at it send some money to everybody that bought an LCD monitor.

Re:Not enough (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169100)

No, they can pass on that cost and people will use other parts.

Re:Not enough (5, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169120)

>>>Punish price-fixing by price-fixing, at least for a period.

(1) That's unconstitutional. The New York Constitution does not grant such a power as "price fixing".

(2) There's no need for such extremes. When the record companies were caught price-fixing CDs (thereby forming an illegal cartel), they were ordered by the courts to refund ~$25 to all their customers, so that erased any illicit profits they had earned.

(3) And then the free market was left to its own devices, and the cost of CDs plummeted from $13 to $9 within a year, since the cartel was no longer allowed to operate. The same will happen to LCDs too, after the price-fixing cartel is broken-up.

Re:Not enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169274)

They can put a ceiling on the price.

Re:Not enough (2, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169694)

In theory perhaps, but it could be a bitch in practice. Manufacturing costs are ultimately at the whim of commodity prices, which in case you haven't noticed, have in some instances been quite dynamic with the current financial turmoil. Should the combined price of raw materials go up to the extent that it is no longer possible to manufacture a product and still make a profit the obvious step for a manufacturer to take is to scale back production and concentrate on other, more profitable, product lines. Net result is that product availability goes down, retailers who are not going to be bound by the court imposed price ceilings,will almost certainly push the prices up to make a quick profit, and ultimately the customer will end up the loser.

Re:Not enough (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169848)

Well the suit alleges that the these shortages were not real but rather part of the "story".

However, how are they going to prove that any of this took place when these companies are all foreign corporations, and the persons involved were almost surely overseas. (They would have to be extra dumb ti include their US branch personnel in such meetings).

I don't think NY has the clout to demand documents from Taiwan or Korea.

Re:Not enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170076)

Historically, those issue are dealt with be allowing the companies go back to the court and show them they need to raise the price based on things not within their control.

it would probably be heavy handed in this issue. Fine them, then have a substantial larger fine over their head if the court finds them to be colluding at a latter date... plus give me 2 50" LED TVs.

Re:Not enough (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170000)

>>>They can put a ceiling on the price.

Which creates shortages, as not enough items are produced to meet customer demand.

Re:Not enough (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169718)

(1) That's unconstitutional. The New York Constitution does not grant such a power as "price fixing".

The court could certainly order that they retain only a certain percentage markup on their products for a given time, to be verified with inspectors double-checking their books.

(2) There's no need for such extremes. When the record companies were caught price-fixing CDs (thereby forming an illegal cartel), they were ordered by the courts to refund ~$25 to all their customers, so that erased any illicit profits they had earned.

You're joking right? That settlement was a COMPLETE FRAUD. Customers who had bought 5-6 dozen music CD's over a decade, at $10+ overcharge per CD, were ripped off with a measly $25 voucher to BUY MORE OVERPRICED PRODUCT. The MafiAA companies pocketed the rest, flipped the bird at the artists they regularly rip off [salon.com] , and laughed at how fucking stupid our legal system is.

(3) And then the free market was left to its own devices, and the cost of CDs plummeted from $13 to $9 within a year, since the cartel was no longer allowed to operate. The same will happen to LCDs too, after the price-fixing cartel is broken-up.

Have you seen the prices lately? Pretty fucking uniform - Walmart, Bestbuy, Amazon, all seem to have exactly the same price (or somewhere within 50 cents of each other) on every goddamn CD again, and new releases are hovering steadily around $18. It sounds more like the MafiAA cartel laid low for a few years and went right back to their old tricks again.

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169858)

I hate your sig. How is a statement made in 1977 at all relevant 22 years later?

Re:Not enough (4, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170050)

>>>That settlement was a COMPLETE FRAUD. Customers who had bought 5-6 dozen music CD's over a decade, at $10+ overcharge per CD

The overcharge was estimated by the court to be $3 per disc. So if you got a $25 refund that covered the overcharge for eight-and-a-half discs. Yes there were some people who bought more than 8.5 discs, but there were also people who bought zero discs (like my mom) and were still eligible for a refund. It all averages out.

AND it punished the companies with a several hundred million dollars loss.
.

>>>were ripped off with a measly $25 voucher to BUY MORE OVERPRICED PRODUCT

False. I got a check, as did my mom, brother, and my two nieces. The checks were converted to CASH. Maybe you should not make false assumptions about something you known nothing about. It was a true refund.

Likewise when Paypal got in trouble, I received a Cash refund of $75 due to a court order. Not a voucher - actual money.

Re:Not enough (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170094)

>>>Walmart, Bestbuy, Amazon, all seem to have exactly the same price (or somewhere within 50 cents of each other)

Naturally. They are in competition with one another and watch prices. Of course they will all be in the same ballpark. They want to undercut each other, but still high enough to keep a profit.
.

>>>new releases are hovering steadily around $18.

Well sure. New releases are always higher due to demand, but after awhile they drop to around $9.... which is 3 dollars less than the price-fixed $12-13 they used to cost. It's just the same way that Video games start at $50 but eventually drop to $20 (or less). High demand == high price.

Re:Not enough (1)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169140)

I think this is a good approach, personally. A much more significant and lasting punishment for the crime.

Question is, how long to punish? I think it would only be fair to force them to sell at a lowered price for the same duration they sold at jacked up prices. If they go out of business, tough shit. Should have thought about the consequences of the actions.

And yes, everyone who bought an LCD during those dates should either receive a reimbursement equal in % to what they were overcharged, or receive a coupon for that % off a purchase of any new LCD from that company that they buy.

No more light slaps on the back of the hands, corporations need a solid punch in the gut for pulling stunts like this.

Re:Not enough (0)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169154)

That's stupid. Artificially pricing goods is never a good thing, even if it's done lower. 'Requiring' is just a shitty concept, economically speaking. That's why GP said to fine them heavily enough to discourage such things; it still allows for free market competition, except they have to take the possibility of legal action into consideration as another factor toward that competition. Do you even understand what you just typed?

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169638)

Dont forget to stop them bending over to the MPAA and make some proper size/res panels.
Enough of the 1080p low-res rubbish.

Re:We will see... (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169106)

I hope they get around to hard drive price fixing too. It's been going on for 10 years now.

Re:We will see... (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169282)

Since the price of HD keeps falling like rock, I doubt it.

Re:We will see... (1)

Kepesk (1093871) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169244)

It wouldn't surprise me if this were true; I've always thought LCD prices have been uniformly way too high considering the materials involved and the maturity of manufacturing processes.

Re:We will see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169294)

Why don't they go after real villains, phone companies, cable, movies, music, etc.? Electronics is one area where prices keep going down or keeping steady despite inflation.

Re:We will see... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169300)

Wasn't Samsung (among others) recently in trouble for price fixing/collusion in the Flash RAM market?

Samsung - I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:We will see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169874)

We will see what comes out in court,

Are you a newborn in this country? Not to need to way. Predictable outcome: each one pays $N million to the AG to settle 9where N is fraction of each's profits;) the "public" is then satisfied (according to the AG;) case close.

Re:We will see... (4, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169986)

We will see what comes out in court, although I'm holding back judgement until I see the evidence. If they are doing what the complaint alleges, then yes, fine them enough to discourage them (and others) in the future, ie: heavily. Personally I'm glad to see a bit of consumer protection going on for a change. The FTC has become pretty much useless over the last few decades.

Fine them?
This is the problem.
There is no punishment.

JAIL the ones responsible - the CXOs and board members.
FORCE the company to sell their products at government-determined fair prices or FORBID them from doing business in the US.

Problem fucking SOLVED.

Its always interesting to see these allegations (3, Interesting)

jpolonsk (739332) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168686)

In areas where prices are dropping rapidly its interesting that they are able to find price fixing. It used to be memory now I guess it's moved on to screens.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (5, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168718)

RTFA, it covers 1996 to 2006, a time when prices were still pretty damn high. I know, I have a $600 20" monitor from that era.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168860)

I bought a 27'' for 967$ in 2006. No doubt in my min it was price fixing. As amongst the "top" LCD TV's this was the cheapest of its time.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170112)

I bought a 21" CRT for $70 (2006).

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168874)

I was holding out with my 17" CRT for as long as I could. When it died I was going to go LCD.

Unfortunately, it died when the BenQ 15" LCD Monitors were still $550 CAN.

Biggest rip off ever.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169158)

Of course prices were pretty damn high, the LCD displays was still very new then! Not to mention that 4:3 20" LCD monitors still cost almost as much.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (1)

emkyooess (1551693) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169982)

Oh 4:3, how I miss you.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169572)

I can beat that, 19" samsung 191t, cost me over $900. Went to put it on ebay a few years ago, worth fuck all so didn't bother. These days using a 30" lp3065, cost about $1300. Apple's displays were low on spec high on price, so who made their panels?

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170106)

I have two LG L1920P's (19") that were about $800 a piece. I bought two new LG 24" screens, and the stands are plastic, they turn themselves off and on and wont stay on or off, worst pieces of shit ever. I returned them, the new ones were the same, I complained to LG, didn't get any response. I just live with them and swear every time it turns off and I have to power cycle it for 30 seconds in the middle of doing something. On the bright side, they were "only" $250 each.

Re:Its always interesting to see these allegations (2, Funny)

jpolonsk (739332) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168732)

I could have had a 24 inch screen for under $200 4 years ago if it weren't for the price fixing.

Dejavu all over again!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33168758)

Here we goes again.Just leave it to the commie asians to screws the west,yhey wi!!

if it goes through (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33168762)

we'll just see prices stay the same now while the parties involved attempt to regain losses.

Par for the course (5, Insightful)

RiddleofSteel (819662) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168830)

Sadly this is one of the biggest problems with out country today. The biggest bane to Capitalism is a monopoly. And unfortunately almost every major product we buy be it power, automobiles, computers, food, media, etc. has a group of three or four huge companies that completely control that market. They get together and price fix, control the market, and even control the laws and regulations that are supposed to keep them in check. These types of collusion are no good except for the people at the top of these companies and their stock holders.

Re:Par for the course (0, Troll)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169190)

Hey, I thought collective bargaining was supposed to be a good thing! Did they lie to me this whole time?

Re:Par for the course (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169324)

Sadly this is one of the biggest problems with out country today. The biggest bane to Capitalism is a monopoly. And unfortunately almost every major product we buy be it power, automobiles, computers, food, media, etc. has a group of three or four huge companies that completely control that market. They get together and price fix, control the market, and even control the laws and regulations that are supposed to keep them in check. These types of collusion are no good except for the people at the top of these companies and their stock holders.

Actually, monopolies are the goal of capitalism. It's the ideal end-game - to own the entire market. If you can't own it, then you'll either acquire your competition, or collude to ensure that everyone can go home with big fat paycheques and bonuses and lots of cash. And that's the goal of a capitalistic society - to earn as much money as possible.

What threatens a monopoly the most is the young startup who dares to disturb whatever nice arrangement you have making money. Which a monopoly or a collusion would go and prevent by either outright purchasing the new competition, or make it impossible for it to survive, by dumping.

Monopolies are allowed and legal, however, governments tend to institute measures to ensure that monopolies don't abuse their power (leveraging a monopoly in one area to gain it on another, dumping to drive competition out of business, etc).

Re:Par for the course (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169466)

Capitalism is a system. Systems hate it when you anthromorphize them.

Monopoly profits may be the goal of capitalists, but when they're not colluding (or when there are low enough barriers to entry that it doesn't matter, which may not be the case here, especially with patents involved) other capitalists just stab each other in the back (business-wise) so they can get their share. Eventually, they're just making normal profits, and it's not all that interesting, so they can go off and do other things with their money.

That's the "everyman" take-away, anyway.

Re:Par for the course (5, Funny)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169586)

Systems hate it when you anthromorphize them.

Do systems love it when they're not anthromorphized? Can I hurt the feelings of systems by ascribing feelings to them?

Re:Par for the course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169756)

No, the goal is to *try* to make money and obtain larger market share. But the trick is, there is always supposed to be competitors out there to keep you honest. If an entity obtains monopoly status, they were probably breaking the rules.

Re:Par for the course (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170160)

>>>Monopolies are allowed and legal, however, governments tend to institute measures to ensure that monopolies don't abuse their power

Monopolies aren't legal in the US, unless they first ask permission from the government (an exclusive contract). SO: Who regulates the monopoly known as government? Who controls Amtrak from over-charging me? Or from charging decent prices, but then not delivering the service promised (like losing my mail)?

A government monopoly is no better than a corporate monopoly.

Re:Par for the course (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169368)

"power, automobiles, computers, food, media"

Power - Always has been a local monopoly in America. Usually driven by who owns the power distribution network.

Automobiles - Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen/BMW, Mercedes, Fiat, Tata, and I'm forgetting a few actual companies. Plenty of competition I think.

Computers - Lenovo, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba, Panasonic, HP, Acer, Apple. Now this is an area where competition seems lacking, right? Who did I miss?

Food - I'm lost, but there are a lot of huge conglomerates, though competition I cannot judge.

Media - There are dominant players, but I'm not sure the Internet has let them be so dominant as before. Except for Google.

Now the real competition/monopoly issue is further along. Wal-Mart is dominating retail, Amazon/iTunes dominate other areas. I don't know that there is no price fixing going on, but it is the suppliers probably. Look for the scarcity and you will find the collusion. LCD screens are in short supply, probably due to fixing. RAM seems tolerably priced. CPUs are not cheap, but AMD keeps pressuring Intel on price. Other components seem cheap enough. Blu-Ray drives are expensive. Hard drives seem pretty competitive, but you never know, cause that is a small group of manufacturers - Seagate, Samsumg, Toshiba, who else?

It's an easy complaint to make. I wonder how true it is.

Don't confuse brands with manufacturers. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169510)

You're confusing what are basically brands with manufacturers.

Many of the automotive companies you listed make cars for one another. That ends up rendering them more as brands, rather than outright manufacturers. Even then, many of them buy their parts from the same parts manufacturers, and only act as mere assemblers most of the time.

The situation is even worse with computers. Like with the automotive companies you listed, all of those computer companies merely assemble computers. They all use components made by a very small number of manufacturers. They basically just assemble them, and stick their company name on the final system. They end up just being brands for what is essentially the same product. You can buy a modern Apple laptop, or buy five older Dell laptops for the same price, and the parts inside will be virtually identical.

Re:Don't confuse brands with manufacturers. (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169806)

I like how you took a stab at apple while making a point. Clever, and I agree.

Re:Don't confuse brands with manufacturers. (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169808)

The situation is even worse with computers. Like with the automotive companies you listed, all of those computer companies merely assemble computers. They all use components made by a very small number of manufacturers

The obvious- and most central- example is that of the x86 PC's CPU itself, where the market is basically a duopoly that's just a few not-quite-competitive AMD releases away from being a monopoly.

Re:Par for the course (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169376)

The thing is, market forces work so that companies naturally merge to only 3 or 4 main competitors when an industry is mature. When the industry is young, sure, there's lots of smaller competitors. But as the industry matures, the poorer competitors die out, and others merge together, and eventually there's only 3 or 4. At this time, these larger companies are able to take advantage of economies of scale that smaller competitors cannot, and as the industry and technology is mature, new small competitors can't bring any new innovation to the table that outweighs their lack of brand recognition and economies of scale. We saw this in the automotive industry, and many others.

In a healthy market with a mature industry, 3 or 4 main competitors is the most efficient. The catch is, you need a decent government in place which oversees them and makes sure that they don't form a cartel or collude in any way to screw over the customers. Without any government regulation, you'll either end up with a cartel/oligopoly, or a monopoly, and then you don't have a free market at all, since there's no real competition and no choice for the consumers.

Unfortunately, the Rand-worshiping free-market fans almost always forget about the role government has in ensuring the marketplace remains a level playing field. (And those who oppose the free-market Randians want a giant centralized government that basically micromanages everything.)

Re:Par for the course (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169844)

Basically, we need to forbid politicians from entering the corporate upper management for a length of time and also forbid the converse. Additionally, we need to impose severe restrictions on who can contribute to political campaigns both directly and indirectly through separate agencies. Its really a joke how much corruption hits capital hill. Unfortunately I don't see any reason it will ever get better unless a highly educated population has a revolution. There were only a few times this happened in the history of human kind, and it doesn't look like our society will do it anytime soon since we already have a decayed and continually decaying education system.

Re:Par for the course (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170040)

I have another idea: how about a law forbidding lawyers from holding public office? I think that would solve many of our problems. The way it is now, most people in Congress are lawyers, the President is a lawyer, and everyone in the Supreme Court is a lawyer.

At the very most, only Congresspeople should be allowed to be lawyers, since they write the laws. The President and SCOTUS Justices should never be lawyers.

Re:Par for the course (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169950)

Unfortunately, the Rand-worshiping free-market fans almost always forget about the role government has in ensuring the marketplace remains a level playing field.

The rand-worshipers that I have heard have pointed out the role that government has in enabling and creating monopolies.

Patents, Licenses, Grants, etc.. barriers to entry.. brought to you by Uncle Sam.

Economies of scale isnt a valid argument. Even in mature markets with only 2 or 3 competitors, its not unheard of for a new competitor to enter the market and be successful. If there is enough money to be made, investors will follow, and start-ups can be huge from the outset because of it.

When I was growing up, there was no Walmart. There was K-Mart, Caldors, and Bradlees. Caldor is notable because it was the largest chain in the country. Now its gone.

Re:Par for the course (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170130)

Randians are full of shit. Standard Oil didn't need patents to build a monopoly. Yes, economies of scale are a valid argument, despite whatever you're smoking. Bigger companies can buy in bigger quantities, and get better discounts. The only way new competitors enter the market is if they have a new innovation that outweighs the economies of scale their entrenched competitors enjoy. In a mature industry, this isn't likely. For instance, if you want to start an oil company to compete with Chevron, Texaco, and BP, exactly how do you think you're going to do it? There's no new innovations there that would let you compete with them. You could get into a whole different form of energy (like solar), but now you're creating a new industry, not competing in an existing, mature industry.

I suppose the other way new competitors can enter a market is if their competition is all incompetent. I don't know about Wal-Mart, but I suspect this is what happened there. (I've never heard of Caldors, but I do remember Bradlees and even Woolworth, and of course K-Mart is still around, barely.) But even Wal-Mart isn't a monopoly; they're competing against Target, as well as regular grocery stores and Amazon.com and other internet retailers.

Re:Par for the course (1)

emkyooess (1551693) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170032)

Not in a free market. Note, corporations as we know them cannot exist within a free market. (Share holder companies can, but "limited liability" is a major monstrosity of a government creation. Were not the barriers to entry into a market (often governmental/regulatory [including patents]), and were not so many companies (corporations) favored over others, a monopoly is pretty much *impossible* in a free market, except perhaps in some localized resources that have few natural sources.

Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixing? (5, Interesting)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168840)

Whose ass do you have to sue to get some highres monitors around here?

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

sky289hawk1 (459600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169186)

Bring on the retina displays for computers!

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

Sabriel (134364) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169576)

If they can't fix the price, they may well have to compete more on actual features...

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169580)

No kidding. My 8 year old laptop has a 15" 1600x1200 screen. I have not seen anything close to that pixel density before or since. I thought by now we would all be using 4000x3000 27" screens when in fact we have moved backwards with craptacular 1920x1080 screens (1080?! WTF, my ancient laptop is better!).

The price fixing sucked (or sucks) though. I have two 20" LCD's from 2004 that were over $700 each. Big 'ol scam they had running there.

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169702)

Did you know that "FTW" ("for the win") is a direct translation of "Sieg Heil"?

No, I didn't and no, it's not. The direct translation is Hail Victory.

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

orange47 (1519059) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169720)

Its probably not easy to reduce dot pitch and pixels. Go sue someone for lack of flying cars..

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170116)

My phone has a much lower dot pitch, it uses an lcd.

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169952)

I just bought a Samsung 27" 1920x1080 monitor, which is plenty highres enough for me. The monitor only is $330 at Costco, the monitor with digital TV built in is $380, for for $50 I went for the one with a tuner, remote control, and build in speakers.

Re:Forget price fixing, what about resolution fixi (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170146)

1920x1080 @ 27" is merely 81.5 DPI -- high res, sure, but still quite pixelated. I bet the GP meant to say high-DPI screens.

isn't this everywhere though (2, Interesting)

TravisHein (981987) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168842)

such as any telco company, VOIP termination provider, or even gasoline?

Re:isn't this everywhere though (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169102)

No. At least, hopefully not. Most of these things are controlled by raw material prices, production costs, taxes, upstream suppliers who also supply other stores, etc. The prices may seem to be fixed across lots of stores, but really lots of stores just share the same costs, and sell competitively, so prices end up much the same everywhere. For instance, most garages/petrol stations don't make much money on fuel; they make it on the snacks and cigarettes and groceries that people buy while they're paying for the fuel.

Re:isn't this everywhere though (2, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169408)

or even gasoline?

Yeah ... ever hear of OPEC ? They basically do this at a multi national level. Although, I really don't know if the price would be any different if they didn't. Demand has almost outstripped supply capacities.

Re:isn't this everywhere though (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169866)

Gas would be cheaper for sure. They do the same thing DeBeers does. Limit the supply, maintain demand, price goes up.

Re:isn't this everywhere though (2, Interesting)

runner_one (455793) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169936)

I have never understood this. Every few months we hear about a new round of companies in trouble for price fixing for one product or another.
Yet OPEC gets together and does it right out in the open, heck their meetings are on the network news, and we just bend over and take it up the pooper.
  I just don't get it.

Re:isn't this everywhere though (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170072)

Because OPEC is a bunch of foreign governments, which aren't subject to our laws.

Re:isn't this everywhere though (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170096)

oh yeah, oil prices have often been change due to things besides supply and demand.

sounds familiar (2, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168868)

agreeing to output levels and keeping prices artificially high

Sounds familiar. [wikipedia.org]

Re:sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169020)

Unfortunately, they're all nations. And the only way to impose your wants is through counter-sanctions or military threats. The civil way to resolve this with companies are through lawsuits. Unless you're the Mexican drug cartel....but that's another story.

Re:sounds familiar (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170126)

Or fund an alternative and tax the hell out of their product.

That would be a far better punishment.

Good thing I bought a plasma... (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33168966)

... oh, wait. The plasma displays are priced pretty much the same as the LCDs. I guess those of us who want better contrast and refresh (without buying LEDs) get treated the same as those who don't.

It does leave one to wonder, though which technology is actually better margin for the manufacturer. It seems unlikely that the production costs of the two technologies would really be that close.

Re:Good thing I bought a plasma... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169128)

And higher power use, screen burn in(which is not fixed just covered up), and reflections worse than any CRT ever had.

 

Re:Good thing I bought a plasma... (2, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169250)

And higher power use

On the order of 30-50% higher than an LCD. Not exactly an enormous difference; most people would never see the difference in their electric bill as the consumption would still be drowned out by their refrigerator.

screen burn in(which is not fixed just covered up)

Not much of an issue on any plasma made in the last 5-10 years. The manufacturers have been aware of the problem and implemented several techniques to pretty well reduce the rate of burn-in to negligible; more LCDs have dead pixels now than plamsas have burn-in.

and reflections worse than any CRT ever had

I don't know what kind of lighting you were watching a plasma on back in the 90s, but that issue has been pretty well quashed as well. Sure, they need glass fronts as opposed to the LCDs with their plastic fronts, that is a requirement for the gas pressure. But we do have more than one way to make glass now...

Re:Good thing I bought a plasma... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169298)

Something I've always wondered, in an LCD monitor, is there one big pool of liquid crystal, or are there individual cells for each pixel?

Re:Good thing I bought a plasma... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169856)

I'd imagine Individual cells. Otherwise the current used to turn the liquid crystals would short across the entire screen. Then you'd just have one, really large, pixel. In monochrome.

Re:Good thing I bought a plasma... (0, Offtopic)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169422)

Just get one of the new LED-backlit LCDs. I have a 24" monitor like this, and it's great. Better color than standard LCDs, and significantly lower power consumption too. My office gets hot enough as it is, I don't need my monitor generating even more heat.

The LED-backlit LCD TVs I've seen look fantastic.

now we can get to... (5, Interesting)

sevenfactorial (996184) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169112)

This is great. Hopefully in the near future we can address price fixing in everything else, like text-messages, internet service, cell phone service .... etc etc etc.

What happened to trust busting?

Re:now we can get to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169530)

...and diamonds. Seriously, it's been a cartel for decades. Everyone knows it, yet nobody seems to care. Why?

Again? (5, Informative)

unburleyvable (1872860) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169114)

Maybe price fixing isn't so bad (2, Interesting)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169136)

Under fixed prices, they could worry less about lowering prices and instead concentrate on quality and eliminating dead pixels.

But what we see instead is cut-throat competition on price that lowers quality. The same thing happened to the airlines after deregulation. Under regulation, prices were fixed. They now compete on price only and quality has suffered.

Sometimes competition on price can be destructive. Jobs are lost, quality suffers, and ultimately monopolies emerge after competitors have been driven out of business.

Re:Maybe price fixing isn't so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169464)

Under fixed prices, they could worry less about lowering prices and instead concentrate on quality and eliminating dead pixels.

But what we see instead is cut-throat competition on price that lowers quality. The same thing happened to the airlines after deregulation. Under regulation, prices were fixed. They now compete on price only and quality has suffered.

Sometimes competition on price can be destructive. Jobs are lost, quality suffers, and ultimately monopolies emerge after competitors have been driven out of business.

There are two generic business strategies: low cost and differentiation.

One of the problems with differentiation is that consumers dont know that it is a strategy.

Re:Maybe price fixing isn't so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169990)

Two wrongs don't make a right.

If you want to pay more for no dead pixels (as do I for one) then legislate that dead pixels mean a defective product that the mfr must exchange/refund.

Isn't that Nashe's theory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33169176)

Where competitors cooperate they end up to gain more. Everyone does that. To me it's obvious that LCD companies got sued because no large US company holds substancial interests in glass substrates design and manufacturing.

Re:Isn't that Nashe's theory? (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169734)

To me it's obvious that LCD companies got sued because no large US company holds substancial interests in glass substrates design and manufacturing.

Very few US companies hold substantial interests in manufacturing anything these days, except maybe military hardware.

Re:Isn't that Nashe's theory? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169996)

And those military hardware companies are run by such fine, upstanding CEOs [talkingpointsmemo.com] !

Track Record with this Bunch (1)

gpronger (1142181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169356)

"unburleyvable" pointed out an important point here (wish I had some mod points), this isn't the first time around with price fixing with this stuff. I for one think that something new has to be applied to the situation based upon track record. It would seem that their perspective (manufacturer's) after getting caught must be that the point isn't not to do it (price fix) but not to get caught doing it.

Greg

Say what? (0)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169432)

Whatever this story is about, why won't my laptop display it on its monitor? :-)

Time for stronger laws (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169446)

We need jail time for decision makers. I mean serious jail time. We have seen this over and over and over again with chips and LCDs and CDs and all manner of things like this. It's not as if they don't know it's illegal. They KNOW it is illegal. It is time to either make this type of behavior legal or to get serious about the punishment. Corporations are too often shields for unethical, unlawful, immoral, inhumane, harmful and illegal behavior. When the "corporation" takes all the risk, what is to stop individuals from persisting?

Re:Time for stronger laws (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169752)

Well at least it looks like they might be getting fined here. That's better than another article here I read recently where the punishment for breaking the law is "don't break the law any more for the next 10 years please". I wish I could get that kind of treatment.

Re:Time for stronger laws (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169888)

When the "corporation" takes all the risk, what is to stop individuals from persisting?

Isn't that the purpose of the company? To move individual responsibility to an abstract legal entity.

Re:Time for stronger laws (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169900)

Illegal and immoral are different things. I would bet they took protections to make it as legal as possible.

Re:Time for stronger laws (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170030)

We need jail time for decision makers. I mean serious jail time.

Why is sentencing people to prison rape always the solution? "the punishment should fit the crime", right? Fine them 2x what they made from it, maybe bar them from holding that sort of position in the future.

Re:Time for stronger laws (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170102)

Individuals make the decisions. Fining a corporation does not punish the individuals responsible for the actions. Trying to extract "what they made from it" can and is hidden through dirty accounting tricks.

Sentencing people to prison time is a deterrent to show that they have something to lose. At the moment, they have nothing to lose.

what really is price fixing? (1)

supernova87a (532540) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169740)

Perhaps someone can explain/frame for me the whole notion of regulating anti-competitive behavior, and how legal authority to regulate is derived/justified from consistent principles, in a nascent industry? Because it seems very case-by-case to me, as well as pick-and-choose based on "what we don't like".

What I mean is that I sometimes don't understand cases like the following:

- Companies making LCD screens are accused of price fixing for charging high prices, yet Apple, which is the only producer of the iPhone, does not count as a monopoly and is not similarly found to be price fixing a (at one point) $600 phone.

- XM radio and Sirius merged, to much scrutiny of the SEC because this would consolidate the industry and "reduce competition". But how was consolidating into one player any different when there was only one player in the industry at the beginning of this technology? Why is government interested now, but not back then?

I guess I'm confused about fundamental questions. When does it become society's right/responsibility to say that a service/product has evolved such that you cannot use your competitive advantage to gain as much as possible from it? Is it when something rises to the level of being a public good / commodity / right?

Wouldn't you be frustrated that if you had a technology you basically created, you were told that you must allow someone else to compete with you and benefit from your work?

Some things are confusing.

Re:what really is price fixing? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170004)

First of all monopolies are NOT illegal, abusing one is. Secondly, Apple holds absolutely NO monopolies in any sector of business, at all. I think you really need to go and read about what a monopoly really is, in the CONTEXT of the law. XM and Sirius merged because they couldn't stay viable any other way. It was either let them merge or watch them both slowly die. That was a big part of the SEC scrutiny and ultimately why it was allowed. It becomes society right when a manufacturer controls so much of a market that it impossible to have competitors play on level playing field. IN recent history there have been very few real abusive monopolies. ATT and Microsoft come to mind and thats about it. Your ending statement describes basically a patent. Either you have it or you dont. The whole issue in this particular case is that you have several companies that are supposed to compete with each other to create a robust marketplace that are illegally conspiring to form an abusive monopoly. When they act as one, they are no longer competitors, but illegal colluders.

The only way for a fine to work... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169880)

...is if the fine costs far more than what was made from the corrupt action. If it isn't, then the fine is no more than a cost of doing business. As in most cases, the fine probably *won't* be greater than the profits made, and thus there is nothing good that will come of it.

libertarians, free market fundamentalists, and (1, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#33169910)

other assorted tea party morons:

you need a powerful government to regulate the market and keep it fair. left on its own, the market is abused by its largest players. point of economic historical fact

wake the fuck up from your idealistic idiocies please

Re:libertarians, free market fundamentalists, and (1)

theverylastperson (1208224) | more than 4 years ago | (#33170110)

I'm looking at a 21" LCD I paid $129.00 for. Just fifteen years ago these didn't exist (If they did they'd cost a lot more than $129). Is a $129 an abusive price? The very system you argue against is the very system that produces, what I think, is an amazing product at an extremely affordable price.

Who would you rather be abused by? Toshiba or a Powerful Government? I know which one Stalin would pick.Now that's a man who had "idealistic idiocies".

There's a fine line we walk between protecting consumers and protecting liberties. Attacking a group of companies that have revolutionized our civilization by producing items that 100 years ago would be considered magic, seems somehow foolish. Left unchecked there is a high chance that they may some day abuse their market power, but I would have to see some kind of abuse that outweighs the true value of the product they produce.

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