Economics and Technology

Market Distortion in Times of Rapid Change

Well-run companies act to maximize shareholder value. In an ideal market economy, competition aligns companies' desire for profit with customers' desire for affordable, timely, useful, high-quality products.
However, competition is a process in which information about companies and their products diffuses through a population of customers. Companies can be said to be competing only when their customers' buying decisions are based on accurate product information.
In times of gradual change, a consumer's buying decision is based on domain knowledge, product research, experience with previous purchases, common knowledge, and friends' advice. As consumers learn, they converge on the product that best meets their needs.
When technology changes rapidly, there isn't time for product information to filter out into the marketplace. Companies realize they can produce substandard products and get away with it. In the absence of hard data, consumers buy on the basis of habit, sales pitches and brand image. This favours large companies with marketing muscle and brand recognition. This is why a prolonged period of rapid change often results in a monopoly.