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Top Technology Rivalries – When Tech Companies Just Can’t Get On

Competition is, of course, central to business itself. It doesn’t take Warren Buffet to realise that competing companies will always try and find chinks in the armour of their opponents’ products, in order to steal their slice of the pie. That’s the game – and it has been since time immemorial.

But nowhere is the competition as cut-throat as in the technology field, where companies whose products now dominate our everyday lives compete for more of that ever-elusive market share.  Where would we be without technology giants like Apple and Google? How would our offices even function? Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, as we recount some rivalries that have made technology one of the fiercest battlegrounds in modern business.

Apple Vs Microsoft

This is the big one in computing terms. It goes back to 1984 when computing was in its infancy, when Apple allowed Microsoft to use some of its GUI (graphical user interface) elements, then sued them three years later saying they had encroached too far upon Apple turf. Ever since then it’s been one competition after another; with operating systems, smart phones, music platforms, and pretty much anything else they can develop to outdo each other. And you thought it was all about those ‘I’m a PC, I’m a Mac’ ads, didn’t you?

Oracle Vs HP

This is one rivalry that was both business and personal. The two companies worked amicably together before Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2009, bringing it into the server hardware business – an area where it had formerly worked with HP. Then Mark Hurd, former CEO of HP, was hired by his old friend (and co-founder of Oracle) Larry Ellison as the company’s new Co-President in 2010. This resulted in a lawsuit from HP to protect their trade secrets from being divulged by their former employee. Also, Larry Ellison personally insulting the HP board for firing Hurd did not help matters at all.

However, the lawsuit was settled privately, with Hurd agreeing to forfeit some of his severance package as well as to keep his former employers’ secrets – in fact both HP and Oracle issued a statement saying that he was able to work for his new employer without betraying his old one. But in 2011 both companies are now battling about Oracle’s proposed scrapping of the Itanium microprocessor… which proves that in technology, the battle never ends.

Apple Vs Google

Maybe things will cool off in this one as Steve Jobs has now resigned as Apple’s CEO… but we wouldn’t count on it.  The battle between the makers of the mighty iPhone and the rising Android system is picking up steam again, as Google has announced that it is acquiring Motorola Mobility, which will infinitely strengthen the Android OS brand if it happens. Apple may have to rethink its strategy (which has so far involved launching patent disputes with Android device makers, like Motorola, Samsung or HTC) on this one.

Google Vs Microsoft

This one even got former competitors to join together; Microsoft hooked up with Yahoo to launch Bing in 2009, in order to tackle the omnipresent Google search engine. But this cold war between search providers got hot in early 2011 when representatives from both companies were tweeting regarding accusations that Google had caught Microsoft’s Bing using its search results.  No, this one’s nowhere near done yet.

Google Vs Facebook

In 2011 Facebook became the US’ most visited site, beating Google. Both want to be the illusive ‘point of entry’ to the web, thus giving advertisers the most for their money. But while this has been Google’s patch in the past, more and more people use Facebook constantly while they are online, making it a growing threat as even Google CEO Larry Page says that the future is in social networking. Why else would Google have gone into the social networking world with Google +?

Facebook Vs Twitter

When it comes to social networking, these are definitely the big guns.  Facebook has drawn upon its ease-of-use to appeal to an ever increasing demographic, while Twitter is considered more of a ‘micro-blogging’ site, as used by celebrities like Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher. But Twitter has also broken major news stories (e.g. the Lib Dems negotiating with the Tories over the Coalition, or the recent riots in London) and Facebook has recently emphasised its status features… ie those that are most like Twitter. In a world ever more enraptured by technology – and a world where Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg offered Twitter’s Evan Williams $500 million for his much smaller company in 2009 and was refused – this rivalry is far from over.

MySpace Vs Facebook

Also in the social networking world, MySpace has now announced that it will be going back to its musical roots, suggesting that its forays into wider interests were a mistake that will not be continued.  So it seems that Facebook has won this one… it is after all expanding at a huge rate, with a diverse range of interests apart from music. So a rare end of hostilities on this particular battlefield, it seems.  But as far as technology goes, the war rages ever onward – let’s hope that continued innovation for the consumer continues to be one of its most useful side effects