“The Economist’s “The Fortune of the Commons” article gives an overview of the advantages of standards in layman’s terms:

“Not every technology sector had such far-sighted leaders. But railways, electricity, cars and telecommunications all learned to love standards as they came of age. At a certain point in their history, it became clear that rather than just fighting to get the largest piece of the pie, the companies within a sector needed to work together to make the pie bigger.

Without standards, a technology cannot become ubiquitous, particularly when it is part of a larger network. Track gauges, voltage levels, pedal functions, signaling systems — for all of these, technical conventions had to be agreed on before railways, electricity, cars, and telephones were ready for mass consumption. Standards also allow a technology to become automated, thus making it much more reliable and easier to use.”