Partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. Some are logical; others are forged out of economic necessity.
Some are surprising, whilst others are nothing short of baffling. One recently-announced partnership has, however, really got people talking, and that’s the agreement between the internet search giant, Google, and the maker of the iPhone and iPad, Apple. Surely, these two companies are competitors, aren’t they? You’d be excused for thinking that any sort of tie-in between the two would be a non-starter: frankly most people would think that there’s a greater likelihood of the Smiths reforming. Never the less, it is true. Google and Apple have joined forces, and launched a joint bid for what remains of the former photographic giant, Eastman Kodak.
So what lies behind this unlikely partnership? Well, the answer is simply pragmatism.
Both companies want a piece of Kodak, so it makes sense to work together rather than against each other. So Google and Apple have launched a joint bid of $500 million to get their hands on the patents of the bankrupt camera and film maker. In fact in total there are 1,100 imaging inventions that they’re keen to get their hands on. Now you may wonder why these patents are so important: well, the reason is simple. Both companies want to strengthen their defences in the vicious battle that has engulfed the smartphone industry.
It’s not the first time that pragmatism has won the day in the world of big business though, particularly in the tech industry. Companies have swallowed their competitive pride and worked in conjunction with rivals to get their hands on intellectual property. Last year Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry, were part of a group that bought more than 6,000 patents from Nortel Networks, the defunct Canadian telecoms firm. Still, what makes the tie-in between Apple and Google particularly striking is that the internet search giant and iPhone maker are currently locked in a battle for supremacy in the burgeoning smartphone sector.
Apple is also waging a proxy war against its arch nemesis after launching a welter of patent lawsuits against Samsung, which uses Google’s Android operating system. Earlier this year Apple was awarded damages of $1 billion by a court in California which ruled that Samsung had copied the look and feel of the iPhone. Only last week the judge in that case appealed to the two companies to come to some agreement and sort the problem out after Samsung appealed against the decision.
So is this new working partnership the start of a beautiful friendship?
Are the two giants going to set aside their differences and work together to forge a better world? You bet they won’t. As soon as the Kodak patents are secured, then the gloves will be off once more. Pragmatism has its place, but business is business.