If the big guys win

Small dogs can win

In Walter Isaacson’s admirable biography on Steve Jobs, a central belief is noted: “If the big guy wins, it holds back innovation; they are a force for evil; we must be the force for innovation“.

I’m not sure I totally agree with this notion, but I get what Apple were on about. Until recently, they were always the underdog, and tried to do things beautifully. Ultimately, this idea bore them great success.

So imagine you are a small business, with a monopolist lording it over the market. The #1 company is listed, and is driven by an insatiable appetite from shareholders, analysts and the financial markets. ‘Much wants more’. They have deep pockets. Consumers use them almost out of habit. The company rams home their #1 advantage. Ten years go by, they are as powerful as ever, if not more so. Rivals have come and gone… but mostly gone.

I don’t believe that long term market dominance by one company is good for anyone. It’s not great for consumers, suppliers, competition, choice, innovation or even for the #1 site itself. In their heart of hearts, even they know it.

So what to do?

Consumers and competitors should have faith in the market and their part in it. Markets are dynamic because they are fueled by ever changing consumer demand. Apple was nearly dead and buried in 1997. MySpace was the number one website in the world in 2007. Kodak ruled supreme for generations.

If the #1 is not nimble, not re-inventing itself, it can be tumbled off its perch. Rivals should keep striving, keeping the #1 company honest, keep coming up with ways to connect, making things better. The best does rise to the top eventually… if not forever.

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