The Economic Importance of Standards

2005 May 18


Tim Berners-Lee

MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)

Director, World Wide Web Consortium

We are not alone

View without standards

What is missing?

Examples of markets

Who benefits?

Internet stack benefits

Separate markets exist for:

Standards allow different layers to evolve independently and therefore faster and better

Difficult decision

Plan A
Pursue standard. Commit resources. Transition products. Work with competitors. Encourage it to to all take off
Plan B
Continue working in isolation. Keep proprietary control of customers.

Decision Difficulties

Participation costs

Participation direct benefit

How to you measure the cost


Gopher example @@

Gopher traffic drops when fee announced


IT User benefits


Costs Benefit (fail) Benefit (success)
Plan A
  • Standards group participation
  • Product transition
  • Standard promotion (?)
  • conformance to a sidelined standard
  • Market size jump
  • Market share jump
Plan B
  • Normal product development
  • Normal product promotion
  • Business as usual
  • Market share loss
  • Catch-up cost

Often, Participation carries the least risk

Working for success

World Wide Web Consortium

Global organization for a global infrastructure

Thank you