Archive for February 2006

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

February 17, 2006

A couple of weeks ago, I was incensed as I read about The Teardown Artists in Wired magazine. The article describes how Detroit auto manufacturers disassemble competitor’s cars to learn how they work and what they cost to manufacture.

Commonly known as reverse engineering, this is a valuable way to learn about the competition. But I was sickened by the hubris of GM and how the author failed to question them. “GM thinks it has a better idea…. [Hydrogen fuel cells seem] like a brilliant move – a classic example of a carmaker using teardown-based research to leapfrog a competitor.”

Who is leading and who is following? The same week the article was published, GM loses $8.55 billion while Toyota climbs to the top position in automotive market share. If the competition is gaining market share at your expense, they must be doing something right. Perhaps if they disassemble a few more cars, maybe Detroit can learn from the competition instead of learning about the competition.

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