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Word of the Day: “Frenemies”

Cloud Computing
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, May 14, 2011
9:45 pm

The new word I added to my vocabulary today is “Frenemies,” proposed in an interesting TechCrunch article, “Competing In The Cloud—Let’s Be Frenemies,” authored by Prasad Thammineni, CEO and Co-Founder of OfficeDrop, a scanner software and digital filing system. Prasad sets the stage by saying:

Competition between software companies used to mean safeguarding your code and suing anyone that came close to it. Today, many larger technology companies are adopting a different strategy of actually bringing new users to companies they would have tried to squash a decade ago. The cloud is changing the old-school software mentality that a customer’s data needs to be locked down—giving rise to a new ecosystem where everything interoperates. So companies that in the past would have been bitter enemies are now working together as pseudo-friends—“frenemies, ” if you will.

Proprietary, closed systems are being replaced with interconnected services that let the user’s data flow. Earlier this year, the Washington Post pointed to a new era of collaboration amongst software giants like Google and Microsoft, and cited the revolving door of talent in the Valley as a key driver in this cooperation.

So, how do we compete in this new world? Prasad recommends three things:

  1. do something better than anyone else
  2. make it easy for others to add on services to your own and
  3. make it work with the platforms that your ideal customers are already using—even if what they’re using seems quasi-competitive to your own product

Good advice, I think, for all of us who are connected in cyberspace. I think I’d rather be friends with you than enemies, but I do like this new word, “Frenemies.”   It seems much more on-line and in the clouds than the old-school “coopetition” that has bounced around the business vernacular for years.

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