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An oligopoly occurs when a select few companies have the majority of market share. Companies within oligopolies are competitors, but they tend to cooperate with each other in order to benefit as a whole, often leading to higher prices for consumers.

Oligopolies exist around the world, and they’re spreading. They’re prevalent in:

  • Cable television services
  • Entertainment industries, including music and film
  • Airline industry
  • Mass media
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Computer and software industry
  • Cellular phone services
  • Smart phone and computer operating systems
  • Aluminum and steel industry
  • Oil and gas industry
  • Auto industry

Only six corporations own 90% of the media and news outlets in the U.S. They are Walt Disney, Time Warner, CBS, Viacom, NBC and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Apple iOS and Google Android dominate smartphone operating systems. Apple and Windows dominate in the computer operating systems market.

Ford, GMC and Chrysler form an oligopoly in the auto industry. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile have one in cell phone services, while Universal, Sony, BMG, Warner and EMI control the music entertainment industry.

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