Saturday, November 23, 2013

Famous Business Rivalries

Competition is good for everyone – individuals, companies, education institutes, states and societies. It encourages one to excel in their chosen field, drives innovation and keeps everyone on their toes. The only thing to watch out here – competition should remain healthy. Classic example is the rapid strides made in the space exploration programme in the 1980’s when the USA and USSR were locked in a race to be the first one to send a man on the moon – many often lament that the progress in the space programmes has become slow after the disintegration of the USSR as there is no competition to the USA. It is also true that competition can bring out the worst in us, if the aim is to win at any cost.
Similarly monopolies are bad for the society, especially in business. Notice how most of the monopolies are run by the government - public transport, water and electricity supply, law and order, waste management. Monopolies emerge in the absence of competition eventually get misused as the people have no other choice but to pay the price that the monopolist demands.
Let us now look at some famous business rivalries that have spurred entrepreneurs and benefited customers over the years -
Ferrari vs Lamborghini
Enzo Ferrari founded the company in 1947 that bears his name and is famous for making mean racing machines. Ferrucchio Lamborghini was a tractor engineer who began purchasing Ferraris for personal use in the late 1950s and believed the car could become better with some modifications – suggestions that were promptly brushed off by Mr Ferrari. This led to the birth Lamborghini that competes with Ferrari in making racing cars and has benefited racing fan across the world.   
Coke vs Pepsi
The oldest and the most followed rivalries in business history. Coke was launched in 1886 and Pepsi was born 12 years later. Since then they have been in serious competition with one another across the world and have spurred product innovations and many interesting ad campaigns in the process.  
Microsoft vs Apple vs Google
Microsoft virtually monopolised the PC market with Windows and was way ahead of Apple till the launch of the IPOD, IPAD and the IPHONE – the founders of both the companies had opposite ideas on how the computing industry should evolve – both the founders were famous dropouts and it did not help that that windows was not suited to run on Apple computers. Microsoft totally missed the move from PC to smart phones and Google capitalised with its famous Android operating system for phones. The rivalry has now shifted to Apple vs Google with Microsoft a distant third in the smart phone OS market. While the verdict is still not out, the loss of Steve Jobs may prove to be a major disadvantage for Apple in this battle.  
Ford vs General Motors
Ford was founded in 1908 and General Motors 5 years later. The founders of both the companies and their successors took different paths to build the company but the rivalry still continues a century later.
Visa vs Mastercard
Both Visa and Mastercard are global payment gateways. Financial institutions issuing debit or credit cards tie up with them and issue cards that carry their logo with one of the above. The competition between that has ensured that the transaction charges remain low and the list of the outlets accepting card payments keeps going up and the transactions become secure with each passing day. 
So keep the competitive juices flowing and supporting your favourite company. After all, it is for us consumers for whom these business rivalries have been on for centuries and will continue well into the future.
The title for the next weeks blog is being kept a secret and will be unveiled soon (next week, actually).  

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