In 1999, the high-end Mac was a 500 MHz Power Mac G4 and cost $3500.
In 2006, the high-end Mac is a 2×3 GHz Mac Pro and costs $2500.
That’s more than 12X faster for 30% less.
In 1999, I was paying CAD$36/month (then worth US$25 @1.47:1) for broadband (Bell Canada).
In 2007, I am paying US$43/month for broadband (Comcast).
That’s maybe 2X faster for 75% more.
Why does US broadband suck?
But I find it hard to remember any company or industry segment ever going zero for 51. This is a failure rate so amazing that any statistician would question the motives of those even entering such an endeavor. Did they actually expect to succeed? Or did they actually expect to fail? We may never know and it probably doesn’t even matter, but one thing is sure: they expected to be paid and they were.
There are no good guys in this story. Misguided and incompetent regulation combined with utilities that found ways to game the system resulted in what had been the best communication system in the world becoming just so-so, though very profitable. We as consumers were consistently sold ideas that were impractical only to have those be replaced later by less-ambitious technologies that, in turn, were still under-delivered. Congress set mandates then provided little or no oversight. The FCC was (and probably still is) managed for the benefit of the companies and their lobbyists, not for you and me. And the upshot is that I could move to Japan and pay $14 per month for 100-megabit-per-second Internet service but I can’t do that here and will probably never be able to.