Successful Co-opetition: Examples of collaborations between competitors

In my last article, I spoke about the opportunities that exist when considering competitors as stakeholders… and more importantly, seeing competitors as potential partners that can offer growth opportunities.

One reader came back with the comment “Co-opetition?”. I was immediately curious about the authenticity of the term, so I looked into it while seeking to find some fascinating and future shaping examples of this type of collaboration.

“Co-opetition” is indeed a bona fide word that can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary meaning “Collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results”. Said to have been created in the 1980s, evidence shows that it was originally coined in 1913 (you can thank me later if it comes up as a question during trivia night!).

Now (more importantly) on to the great examples of ‘co-opetition’ from a few well-known brands that may surprise you:

  • Samsung Electronics and Sony formed an agreement in 2004 to share research and development costs in an effort to both design flat screen LED televisions.

  • Apple and Microsoft teamed up to design a mobile operating system

  • Ford and Toyota jointly designed a new hybrid vehicle in 2013

  • Harvard University and MIT formed EDX, a non-profit organisation that provides free online courses, each investing $US30 million.

  • Amazon (Kindle) and Apple (iPad) established an agreement in 2007 to allow the distribution of Amazon e-books through an iPad - Kindle App, allowing one party to gain a wider market while the other became a more comprehensive content provider.

  • The Star Alliance network of competing airlines was established to save on logistics, marketing and ticketing costs which included Air New Zealand, Thai, United, Air China, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, to name a few.

  • Google supported Mozilla (Firefox web-browser), a rival to Google Chrome, in order to limit the expanding influence of Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple Safari.

  • Peugeot Citroen and Toyota have an arrangement to share components for their city cars Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygos and Citroen C1 and this was established in the first part of the design stage.

It is impressive to think that these global powerhouses can move so freely between collaboration and competition. The truth is the background work to ensure there are projected gains, equity of risk and significant trust, will be substantial and heavily resourced for these brands... but there is no reason why we shouldn’t start looking a little closer to home. Perhaps it’s even time for you to start looking for development opportunities for your own organisation through collaborations.

If you would like to grow your business through relationships, call us to book a time to discuss your needs on 021 756 074.

Amanda HemaComment