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 (Music and Film)
- Mass Media
- Computers & Software
- Cellular Phone Services
- Smart Phone and Computer Operating Systems
- Aluminum and Steel
- Oil and Gas
Specific Current Examples of Oligopolies
- 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 News Corporation (NWSA).
- 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.
- Automobile manufacturing another example of an oligopoly, with the leading auto manufacturers in the United States being Ford (F), GMC, and Chrysler.
- 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).
- 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.