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The art of battling giants with open standards

David Bennett, AMD Corporate VP, WW Commercial/APJ Mega Region | Aug. 31, 2015
To strive and win in the market, companies need to be focused on developing, and partnering to develop complementary and differentiated technologies.

David Bennett, AMD
Photo: David Bennett

Everyone loves a good underdog story. "Money Ball," "Forrest Gump," "Billy Elliot," "The Lord of the Rings," and the list goes on. There are many great movies and books to prove that people love stories of an underdog winning and succeeding contrary to popular expectation. Why? Because no one likes to witness an obvious story of the big, rich and powerful opponent constantly winning over the weaker side.

However, it's no secret that this happens in real life quite often. We see many industries dominated by two or three big players, especially in the technology industry, for example; smartphones, digital books, PCs, tablets and more. It may be because the industry has a high-entry barrier, requires a huge economy of scale, massive R&D costs and complying with strict government regulation to meet even the minimum qualification. It could also be due to the big players that build a fortress to keep the entry barrier high, sometimes abusing their dominant position to their own advantage and not sharing information needed for others to coexist and grow the industry. As a result, the government or an international organisation, often plays a role to control the monopoly and apply antitrust policies.

Government applying antitrust policies or consumers requesting fair competition is not an act of hoping to see the big guys lose all the time. Often it's about protecting the less powerful players. It's about making the industry healthier and providing more options for consumers to choose whether they want a high-end or entry-level technology or if it's a low or high cost product. It all comes down to "having a choice." But in order to have healthy competition, an attempt to just protect the weaker side doesn't always make sense or there will be unfair competition to the big player. The underdog has to come up with brilliant solutions to overcome the economy of scale and R&D costs, and most importantly, the solutions must be brilliant enough to be chosen by a consumer.

In a book by Malcom Gladwell titled "David and Goliath," the author discusses the version of the story that has been told over many centuries and states why almost everything about it is wrong. It isn't a miracle that David defeated the Goliath, but a very strategically placed battle, with David's calculated way of dealing with the competition and interpreting the giant in a different way than others.

In this case, competition is every company's great competitor. To strive and win in the market, companies need to be focused on developing, and partnering to develop complementary and differentiated technologies that will allow the unique features of their products to be truly optimised. We fundamentally believe that an ecosystem built upon open standards is essential for the future health of the technology ecosystem. Open standards foster innovation among ecosystems built upon complementary technologies which ultimately provide consumers with greater choice, to the benefit of all.


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