Everyone loves a good underdog story. Money Ball, Forrest Gump, Billy Elliot, The Lord of the Rings – the list goes on. There are many great movies and books to prove that people love stories of someone overcoming the odds and expectations to succeed.
No one likes to witness an obvious story of the big, rich and powerful opponent constantly winning over the weaker side. But it’s no secret that this happens in real life quite often.
Many industries are dominated by two or three big players, especially in the technology industry with smartphones, digital books, PCs, tablets and more.
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It may be because the industry has a high-entry barrier and requires huge economies of scale, massive R&D costs and compliance 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 policy.
Government applying antitrust policy 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, and low cost or high cost.
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 Malcom Gladwell’s 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.
To strive and win in a highly competitive market, the advice is to focus on developing, and partnering to develop, complementary and differentiated technologies that will allow the unique features of our processors to be truly optimised. To remain competitive, companies need to contest collectively by maintaining a sustainable ecosystem of partners and an open standards policy.
For example, the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation is made up of a group of industry leaders, including AMD, ARM, MediaTek, Texas Instruments, Samsung, Qualcomm and Oracle, which are all committed to developing an innovative computing architecture that is optimised for power efficiency and performance.
Some of these companies may be competitors, but they have joined forces with a common goal in mind. The HSA vision for enabling heterogeneous computing across a wide range of devices requires the collaboration of device manufacturers, developers and semiconductor manufacturers to develop a robust HSA architecture that is open, spurring future innovations for years to come in the PC, mobile, server, HPC and cloud computing markets.
By nurturing multiple aspects of an open ecosystem and understanding the pressures partners are under, the HSA is fostering innovation and success. It helps everyone build better products to further meet market demands and increase the potential for market success.
As Gladwell stated in his book, being an underdog can change people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It can open doors, create opportunities, educate and enlighten, and make possible what might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.
This is the way companies that are often in the shadows, as perceived underdogs, can survive and win in the industry with a differentiated approach – building a healthy ecosystem with an open standards policy.
Sourced from Darren Grasby, AMD General Manager EMEA