The problem is already solved
We see a lot of new technologies that are reactionary. Each company makes their version of what the other has already done. They need to develop that technology to compete at the same level.
They cannot use the product or service of one of their competitors. That would make them dependable.
By making their version, they are not solving any new problem for the customer. They are only adding a new taste, a new style, perhaps a small improvement. All that time, money and energy are not directed to satisfy a new need. The customer does not benefit from that.
The big five in tech
Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon are duplicating the same products and services.
Apple, for instance, built Maps. There is nothing significantly new there. Google Maps had already solved the problem. But I understand that Apple had to build that. Google is now a big competitor in other fields. Apple needs to control the technology in something that is strategic.
Battle for the search engine
They all depend on Google for the search engine. Google has a de facto monopoly in that field. In the beginning, it was not a problem because it was complementary to other firms.
But Google needed to grow and entered into the field of other companies. Android competed with Apple. They created Google+ and became a competitor to Facebook. Or at least they tried. Google distributed differents products and entered into the Amazon field. With Chrome OS, Google created a menace to Microsoft. And these are just examples, a small part of the story.
Now, Google Search is not complementary. Google and Alphabet, as a whole, are direct competitors of the other big four. By the time this happens, the search engine is too big, and the others are too late to develop their technology. They all need a search engine, and they are all slaves to Google.
Microsoft's first answer was Bing. It works quite well. But it is clear that it arrives too late to the game.
Apple rethinks the problem from the beginning and develops Siri. It is a long-term solution. It is risky, a different move. In a certain form, voice assistants can be the next search engine.
You can have more information about voice assistants and their marketing strategy in another post.
Now, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are big and willing to grow. They all have to launch their version of the virtual assistant. We come back to the traditional game of duplicating services and making small improvements.
In the beginning, Google's search engine was possible because it was a niche product. It was not a menace to the others. It was helpful. Google could make it grow and improve because they specialized in that field.
I have explained that Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon have an enormous pressure to grow. Then they enter in the field of a competitor. They need to duplicate products to be independent; they cannot rely on an opponent in an area that is strategic. First grow, then copy.
They cannot specialize. They all do everything. They duplicate efforts. They go to the same direction. They solve problems that are already solved. They forget their core strength.
All that process has nothing to do with the consumer. They do not fight to satisfy a new necessity.
I understand that probably they do not have another option. It's just an imperfection of the system.
This will affect innovation.
This is part of a series of posts dedicated to small firms and innovation. You can read each part independently:
Grow part 1: Why do they want to grow?
Grow part 2: If the company grows, who wins?
Copy part 1: Copy and grow
Copy part 2: Duplicated products
Copy part 3: Apple copy