Originally Published: Tuesday, 26 September 2000 Author: Brian Richardson
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

A Tale Of Two Colas

Life often imitates art ... but it's always amazing how business imitates business.

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Once upon a time, there was a gigantic beverage company called CocaCola, but everybody called them Coke. Coke was a mainstay, a leader. They were considered the de facto standard for the soda industry. To be honest, they practically invented the soda industry. Coke had been around for so long, it was assumed you wanted a Coke when you bought a soda.

Coke was a large company that was successful after years of making a steady, reliable product. They had many competitors, but only one came close to their might: Pepsi. Pepsi Cola had been around almost as long as Coke. While they had a strong following, Pepsi could never quite overtake Coke. Often accused of being a copycat, Pepsi kept working in the same market as Coke.

As the years went on, Coke expanded its business. Companies were acquired, deals were made, new products were released. Pepsi did much the same, still falling in Coke's shadow . . . still present, still a contender, but never the household name that Coke was.

Coke's market share and brand dominance allowed them to make interesting deals with their customers. Coke wouldn't always allow Pepsi products to be served in the same businesses; a store often became a "Coke business" or a "Pepsi business", no middle ground. Coke required stores to lease a special line of Coke dispensers before they could buy their products. Businesses had to risk upsetting Coke when doing business with Pepsi.

Recently, Coke has begin to stumble. First came the accusations of anti-trust violations and monopoly practices, then the product quality issues. Recalls in Europe, safety warnings, lower than expected earnings . . the stock price drops soon followed. Now that big household name status has brought great scrutiny under the public eye. Coke is still the leader, but their position on top is starting to look questionable.

Many businesses have begun to break away from the pack. The "Coke or Pepsi" deals are being cast to the side, creating many businesses that offer both products. The "top dog" status Coke always assumed has started to come into question.

So why is this odd dissertation about soda pop sitting in the hardware section of linux.com?

Try a little experiment. (1) Print out the article. (2) Replace the word "Coke" with "Intel". (3) Replace the word "Pepsi" with "AMD". (4) Read the article again. (5) See if the story still sounds true.

Life often imitates art ... but it's always amazing how business imitates business.

Brian Richardson wrote this article in an airport terminal while drinking a Dr. Pepper.

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