Business rivalries have changed the business world and their conflicts have shaped business concepts, for as far back as anyone can recall. Some mammoth names in the business world fizzled out in the face of unbeatable competition, while others stood their ground and put up an admirable fight.
Here are some of the biggest business rivalries in the world and how they panned out:
1. Coke and Pepsi
In their mad dash toward first place, Coke and Pepsi made two major errors. One, they got complacent. And two, they lost the plot. Busy outselling each other, both Coke and Pepsi lost the big bucks to Red Bull and are now clawing their way back into the fight with a renewed focus on health drinks and snacks.
2. Nike and Reebok
Nike started out as the leader in sports shoes. But some time in the mid-80s, Reebok ousted Nike from the no. 1 spot. Only when Nike signed the Chicago Bulls rookie, Michael Jordan, and released Air Jordans did it reclaim its spot. Air Jordans still generate over $2 billion per year, while Reebok was acquired by Adidas in 2005.
3. MCI and AT&T
This was a classic case of David versus Goliath. MCI sued AT&T, won $1.6 billion and dismantled the stranglehold AT&T had over telecommunication technology. MCI paved the way for newer service providers to get in the game and challenge the rules, thereby ensuring increasingly reduced prices and better services for consumers. MCI filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and got acquired by Verizon in 2005.
4. Lamborghini and Ferrari
This is a rivalry Mario Puzo would’ve written about, if he were one to write about supercars. They’re both Italian-made, and both ridiculously expensive. In 2010, Ferrari’s net revenue was a whopping $2.7 billion as compared to Lamborghini’s measly $132 million. ‘Nuff said!
5. McDonald’s and Burger King
The burger wars began with the Whopper and the Big Mac. Both companies have been trying to give consumers the best value for money (not to mention cholesterol issues and coronaries!) All the rivals in the food industry wars find themselves stymied by the healthy-eating frenzy that seems to have swept across the world. So now they fight about whose burger is healthier!
6. Ford and GM
These companies have been at war with each other for more than 100 years. Ford was the clear favorite when this war began. Ford’s victory, however, was shortlived. GM outdid Ford for almost 8 decades, but declared bankruptcy in 2011.
7. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
There’s an honest-to-god song about their rivalry — that should tell you just how famous it is. They may not like the products the other one makes, but that hasn’t meant one won’t bail the other out of a bad situation. Jobs once borrowed $150 million from Gates to keep Apple afloat.
8. Energizer and Duracell
Both companies have a supercharged ADHD bunny for a mascot. When you’ve got pink bunnies battling it out, you know it doesn’t get more competitive than that!
9. IBM and HP
HP has been outdoing IBM on the revenue front for the past decade or so, but it isn’t always and only about revenues. IBM has its strong suit in a solid sales strategy while HP is all about aggressive moves.
10. Airbus and Boeing
They’ve been at loggerheads since the early 90s. Not only do they keep trying to one up each other in technology and price, they also regularly accuse each other of receiving state funding from their respective governments. I guess it’s only a matter of time before they start hurling shoes and chairs at each other, Indian parliament-style!
11. Disney Channel and Nickelodeon
Disney is a behemoth in the world of children’s entertainment. Nickelodeon has got Disney running scared. It’s a battle that continues to rage as one channel keeps trying to outperform the other. Disney has even gone so far as to steal Nickelodeon’s top executives. It isnt for nothing that they say, “Everything’s fair in love and war”.
12. Camel and Marlboro
The thing about cigarettes, like most things really, is that it’s all about individual tastes. The thing about smokers is that they can’t be put into a box. There are those who will smoke just the one brand, come hell or high water, and then there are those who will smoke whatever’s cheapest and/or most readily available. So while Camel and Marlboro continue to try to steal each other’s smokers by changing slogans and packaging, what they should be focusing on is making their products easier to buy.
13. DC and Marvel
Back in the 90s, when this particular battle first started, Marvel almost went bankrupt. But Marvel stuck it out somehow and Disney acquired it in 2009. Marvel’s success has been unstoppable ever since. DC became a part of the Time-Warner conglomerate in 1989 and has done fairly well, too. Both these companies look at the other as a worthy competitor and afford each other the respect a worthy rival deserves.
14. Apple and Microsoft
To the layperson, better known as the consumer, Apple is all about exclusivity and Microsoft is all about being as inclusive as possible. So while Apple continues to make products that refuse to make friends with any other product, Microsoft has made it its mission to make products that play well with others. Apple may have the upper hand as far as hardware is concerned, but Microsoft has got the Windows operating system. It’s all very Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor in ‘Deewar’. Apple may have the car, the bungalow and the bank balance, but none of it compares to the fact that Microsoft has The Mother.
15. Nintendo and Sony
In the blue corner, heavyweight champion Sony’s Playstation stands ready to defend its title. In the red corner, featherweight challenger Nintento’s Wii hopes to win. It isn’t really a fair fight, this. But you’ve got to hand it to Nintendo for trying. If gaming were about loyalty, Nintendo would win points just for sticking it out this long. But it’s mostly about graphics, and Sony has that down pat. That’s why Sony has been dominating the gaming world for decades, and continues to do so.
16. Budweiser and Miller
Benjamin Franklin said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. Budweiser and Miller have been fighting it out for the number one spot on beer lover’s lists the world over. They started out neck and neck in the 80s. Miller surged ahead when it introduced Miller Lite. Rumor has it that Miller’s President wipes his feet on a carpet with the Budweiser logo on it. Talk about rubbing it in!
17. Adidas and Puma
This one’s a family feud gone global. Many, many years ago, two brothers had a falling out. And that is how Adidas and Puma came to be. The animosity between them extended to the 22,000 people in the town of Herzogenaurach, for over 60 years. The people who worked for Adidas wouldn’t talk to those who worked for Puma, and vice-versa. It was all very ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘West Side Story’. Two people from opposing sides couldn’t marry each other without incurring the wrath of both sides. It wasn’t until 2009, long after both brothers had died, that the two companies finally put aside their feud and even played a friendly game of soccer.