Price transparency (was Re: Input on anticompetitive characteristic of public code)

Paul Boddie paul at
Fri Jun 22 12:41:22 UTC 2018

On Friday 22. June 2018 08.21.00 Bastien wrote:
> Not knowing whether prices of commonly used SaaS are fair (like the
> price of Google services paid by many universities) is to me a big
> argument -- at least to destroy the naive vision that it's easy to
> assess the fairness of a price in a closed-source business model.

Sorry to take this discussion in another direction - hence the subject change 
- but even the costs of traditional proprietary software may not be 
transparent. A few years ago, I was encouraged to request the licensing 
contract for Microsoft products at a public institution, and all the pricing 
information was redacted for reasons of "commercial sensitivity".

So you have a publicly-funded institution paying mystery prices to a 
proprietary software vendor (via their local reseller in this case) who will 
presumably be adjusting their prices according to the perceived risk of their 
customers migrating from their products. And yet you will have people arguing 
that such activities are not anticompetitive.

Indeed, you will even have people arguing that there is "competition" because 
different resellers can submit their own offers (and other such nonsense). In 
the obligatory car analogy for single vendor systems procurement, it would be 
like someone deciding that only Ford Focus cars are acceptable, insisting that 
there is "competition" because different dealers can suggest different prices 
for that one permitted model.


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