Brocker.Org: What are some current examples of oligopolies?

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A:

Oligopolies are prevalent throughout the world and appear to be increasing ever so rapidly. Unlike a monopoly, where one corporation dominates a certain market, an oligopoly consists of a select few companies having significant influence over an industry. Oligopolies are noticeable in a multitude of markets. While these companies are considered competitors within the specific market, they tend to cooperate with each other to benefit as a whole, which can lead to higher prices for consumers.

Common Industries Overshadowed By Oligopolies

  • Cable Television Services
  • Entertainment Industries (Music and Film)
  • Airline Industry
  • Mass Media
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Computer & Software Industry
  • Cellular Phone Services
  • Smart Phone and Computer Operating Systems
  • Aluminum and Steel
  • Oil and Gas
  • Auto Industry

Specific Current Examples of Oligopolies

  1. National mass media and news outlets are a prime example of an oligopoly, with 90% of U.S. media outlets owned by six corporations: Walt Disney (DIS), Time Warner (TWX), CBS Corporation (CBS), Viacom (VIAB), NBC Universal, and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (NWSA).
  2. Operating systems for smartphones and computers provide excellent examples of oligopolies. Apple iOS and Google Android dominate smartphone operating systems, while computer operating systems are overshadowed by Apple and Windows.
  3. The auto industry is another example of an oligopoly, with the leading auto manufacturers in the United States being Ford (F), GMC, and Chrysler.
  4. While there are smaller cell phone service providers, the providers that tend to dominate the industry are Verizon (VZ), Sprint (S), AT&T (T), and T-Mobile (TMUS).
  5. The music entertainment industry is dominated by Universal Music Group, Sony, BMG, Warner and EMI Group.

Read more on the different markets and how they affect the economy here – Economic Basics: Competition, Monopoly, and Oligopoly.

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