In Information Rules, authors Shapiro and Varian reveal that many classic economic concepts can provide the insight and understanding necessary to succeed in the information age. They argue that if managers seriously want to develop effective strategies for competing in the new economy, they must understand the fundamental economics of information technology. Whether information takes the form of software code or recorded music, is published in a book or magazine, or even posted on a website, managers must know how to evaluate the consequences of pricing, protecting, and planning new versions of information products, services, and systems. The first book to distill the economics of information and networks into practical business strategies, Information Rules is a guide to the winning moves that can help business leaders navigate successfully through the tough decisions of the information economy.
Chapter 1 of Information Rules
begins with a description of the change brought on by technology at the close of the century--but the century described is not this one, it's the late 1800s. One hundred years ago, it was an emerging telephone and electrical network that was transforming business. Today it's the Internet. The point? While the circumstances of a particular era may be unique, the underlying principles that describe the exchange of goods in a free-market economy are the same. And the authors, Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian, should know. Shapiro is Professor of Business Strategy at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and has also served as chief economist at the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. Varian is the Dean of the School of Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley. Together they offer a deep knowledge of how economic systems work coupled with first-hand experience of today's network economy. They write:
Sure, today's business world is different in a myriad of ways from that of a century ago. But many of today's managers are so focused on the trees of technological change that they fail to see the forest: the underlying economic forces that determine success and failure.
Shapiro and Varian go to great lengths to purge this book of the technobabble and forecasting of an electronic woo-woo land that's typical in books of this genre. Instead, with their feet on the ground, they consider how to market and distribute goods in the network economy, citing examples from industries as diverse as airlines, software, entertainment, and communications. The authors cover issues such as pricing, intellectual property, versioning, lock-in, compatibility, and standards. Clearly written and presented, Information Rules
belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who has an interest in today's network economy--entrepreneurs, managers, investors, students. If there was ever a textbook written on how to do business in the information age, this book is it. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards