Two thoughts on Apple's announcement today of the iPad.
The first is that anti-trust enforcement often has a way of taking care of itself over time through the self-correcting mechanism of the free market. Aggressive government regulators or prosecutors could have looked at Amazon.com's share of the book market or Kindle's share of the electronic book market and said that Amazon is too big and too powerful, we need to break it up. Certainly publishers, authors, and agents were worried about Amazon's power. Instead, without any government intervention, Apple has emerged with a competing electronic reader and online bookstore. (Another reminder of the follies of anti-trust enforcement came with the earnings announcement of Verizon, which, the Wall Street Journal says, "took a charge of $3 billion to cover the cost of layoffs in its fixed-line telephone business, which is under pressure as customers give up residential lines and the sluggish economy cuts into business use." When the government broke up Bell in the early 1980s, who knew that the landline "monopoly" would become so much less valuable because of the advent of cellphones and internet telephony?)
The second is less a policy thought and more a pricing tactics thought. Apple's opening price is $499. While Apple has maintained pricing power relative to Windows-based personal computers, its prior practice on devices such as the iPod and the iPhone is to start out with a relatively high price and capture the least-price-sensitive early adopters. Once that low-hanging fruit has been picked, the company can lower prices to attract more price-sensitive customers.