If you can’t sue your partner, who can you sue

Apple v SamsungThere’s no question that many supply chains are shrinking as manufacturers can become retailers, and retailers can increasingly become manufacturers.

Plenty of retail sectors are feeling these waves in their ponds. It strikes me that cross-pollinating, and horizontal and vertical integration sound wonderfully simple growth strategies on paper, but in reality they involve emotion, history and entrenchment.

The established practices and incumbents are going to feel pain. It’s going to cause conflict as the status quo flexes. These can have an impact on your business and industry for years to come.

Distributors, the traditional middlemen who import brands and then sell from within their geographies, are extending arms to either side of the isle. In a case of striking first, they find themselves fearful that the brands they’ve nurtured through adolescence might well cut them out of the loop and run a B2C direct model, so they look to counter that risk and start their own product or run rebadged white label stuff.

As such, the simplicity of integration is putting a dampener on the overused business term of ‘partnership.’

Take the Apple-Samsung example. Samsung are a manufacturer, making components for many tech brands we love, as well as selling their own kit B2C. Apple is suing them (constantly it seems) for patent infringement of both design and UX.

While they’re slugging things out in court for some very big decisions, Apple are investing in Samsung’s chip-making plant in Texas.

These ‘partners’ and many others in the tech world will be friendly suing one another for decades.

Image credit here.

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