Sometimes Similar Technology Is Complementary, Not Competition

The fast pace of technology gives the impression that everything is a competition, as each company strives to dominate their niche. However, beneath the surface, tech companies are supporting one another with every new advancement toward the future.


Technological evolution is an unseen partnership

Each new technological advance is built on the technology that came before it. Although companies compete in the marketplace, they’re actually helping each other out behind the scenes.

For instance, on a large scale, the creation of the smartphone gave rise to the mobile app industry. According to Venture Beat, the mobile app market could reach over $100 billion by 2020. They predict this growth will be the result of greater smartphone adoption around the globe.

Gathering their data from App Annie – a data company that tracks more than a million apps – Venture Beat reports that games generated 85% of the app market revenue in 2015.

It’s easy to see that smartphones aren’t competing with mobile apps; they go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, there’s an unseen partnership between smartphones that appears to be competition from the outside, yet is anything but.

The perceived rivalry between Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy phone is actually a symbiotic relationship. The existence of a competitor increases a person’s brand loyalty to the product they love, while giving them a viable option if they change their mind. It’s a win-win for both companies, despite the perceived competition. Competition in this context becomes somewhat of an illusion, and the top “competitors” know and understand this well.

When similar gadgets are complementary

Sometimes similar technology can be complementary. For instance, many people have an iPhone and still use an iPod for listening to music. The iPhone has nearly every feature the iPod has, but several features make the iPod a worthy investment. It’s thinner, lighter, and won’t ring or buzz when you’re out for a walk or at the gym. Chances are, it’s got more space, too.

When contrasting apps are complementary

Another aspect of complementary technology can be seen with dating apps. There have been plenty of specialized dating apps over the years, but they all failed. Tinder learned from their mistakes and was able to give people what they really want: the ability to find their next date based on their location.

Although this app solves some issues, Tinder doesn’t work for swingers. For them, it’s a hassle to spend so much time separating matches who want hookups from matches who want dates. The frustration goes both ways; people who use Tinder to find dates don’t want to deal with the swingers, either.

Another app entered the scene to solve this problem, and it’s called Mixxxer.

The Observer says Mixxxer is made for swingers and provides “hookups without the hassle,” using geolocation just like Tinder. The company makes it clear Mixxxer is not a dating app, although taking the 5,000-foot view, the two apps complement each other perfectly. The emergence of Mixxxer solved a huge problem for Tinder and filled an unmet need at the same time.


Usability can supersede brand loyalty

For another great example, look no further than Lyft and Uber. Both mobile app-based companies offer convenient rides for decent fares, but they aren’t necessarily competitors. Someone who needs a ride isn’t going to wait several hours for their preferred company if a driver from the other company is available immediately.


Brand loyalty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be describes how brand loyalty “locks you into willful, lazy monopolies.” Truth be told, they’re right. Lifehacker accurately describes the scene when each new tech gadget comes out: half the people line up to buy the new shiny gadget, while the other half complain about it.

Consumers who don’t get caught in brand loyalty make options available that allows them to get what they need.

“When you trust any one company to meet all of your needs,” Lifehacker’s article says, “you shut off the ability to make smart decisions about what you use, when you use it, and why. Instead, that loyalty forces you to contort your needs into whatever shape that company gives you. They tell you what to buy, instead of the other way around.”


Every advance contributes to the whole

No matter how you slice it, each technological advance contributes to the next advance. One company might do better in the marketplace, but they’d be nowhere without the technology that came before them.