Competition is good, and there’s no shortage of it between companies.
Whether it’s fighting over a car launch or who is going to win the online retail space, companies do a great job of innovating to beat the competition.
Here are five of the most intense rivalries in history.
1 Ferrari vs. Lamborghini
It is insane to learn that a rivalry between two of the most famous sports car manufacturers began with a humble tractor. After its beginning in 1947, Ferrari became famous for its stylish, high-performance vehicles and expanded from an Italian racing company into a brand synonymous with prestige. Ferrucchio Lamborghini was a tractor engineer who began purchasing Ferraris for personal use in the late 1950s. While doing a routine check, Lamborghini found that the clutch in his Ferrari was broken and he discovered that the car used the same clutch as his tractors. When he asked Enzo Ferrari for a better replacement, Ferrari dismissed him saying he was a tractor maker and did not know anything about race cars.
Soon after, Lamborghini established his own manufacturing company, producing cars that many consider comparable to, or even better than, Ferrari’s vehicles, and began a rivalry that would continue for nearly 50 years.
2. Ford vs. General Motors
Motor City, 1912: Startup carmaker General Motors opens its doors, just miles from entrepreneur Henry Ford’s domain. Ford, cheered up by the success of the Model T, was the industry’s leading pioneer, bringing cars to the masses by keeping costs low. By 1927, Ford had sold over 15 million Model T’s, forever changing American culture by initiating youth to the fabulous freedom of the open road.
All this time, GM was continuously acquiring market share. In 1931, the younger rival dislodged Ford as the world’s leading car manufacturer– and conserved the dominance for the next eight decades.
As we know, the company went through a tremulous period beginning in 2008, when it dropped to number two in the sales rankings and eventually filed for bankruptcy. But by 2011, after getting rid of brands like Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer–and costing U.S. taxpayers $12 billion in bailout funds– GM was back in fighting trim.
3. Airbus vs. Boeing
A century ago, on a beach in Florida, the world’s first commercial flight took to the skies, carrying a single passenger who paid the equivalent of nearly $10,000 in today’s dollars. Now, the $160 billion airline industry sells north of 3 billion tickets per year. China, one of the fastest-growing markets for commercial air travel, is in the midst of building 70 new airports and expanding 100 existing ones, according to The Guardian.
That staggering growth has been supported by Airbus and Boeing, the industry’s competing aircraft manufacturers. Over the years, they have traded places as the market leader again and again, along the way trading jabs over the role of military contracts and government subsidies in the other’s success. Secrecy is rampant–even basic information, like the price customers pay for their jetliners, is difficult to obtain. In 2011 a leaked letter addressed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia confirmed what observers had long suspected: The companies’ sales are a function of statecraft as much as sales and marketing.
4. McDonald’s vs. Burger King
The rivalry between McDonald’s and Burger King used to come down to one thing: the hamburger. Which company’s burger was cheaper?More tasty? More convenient? During the ’60s, the golden age of car culture and fast food, the burger chains’ menus told a story of moves and counter-moves in their pursuit of consumers’ loyalty.
First came McDonald’s 15-cent hamburger. Then came Burger King’s 37-cent Whopper, an attempt to compete on quality rather than price. Soon McDonald’s realized it needed a mammoth burger of its own, and introduced the Big Mac. More recently, as consumers’ tastes have shifted, the companies have been arguing over which restaurant’s chicken nuggets contain higher-quality meat.
Indeed, the challenge facing these two rivals used to be simple: Whichever won the burger won the war. But consumers’ stated preference for healthier options (even if they still order a quarter pounder with cheese) has upended that dynamic and left both companies struggling to define their identities while still feeding millions of families every day, McDonald’s at its 14,300 U.S. locations and Burger King at its 7,400 in the U.S. and Canada.
From cranberry-orange muffins to chicken teriyaki sandwiches, both chains have been experimenting with new ideas in the hopes of winning the trust of health-conscious consumers. But the success of burger upstarts like Shake Shack begs the question: Why aren’t they sticking to their roots and finding ways to do hamburgers even better?
5. Microsoft vs. Apple
Perhaps the most famous tech rivalry belongs to Microsoft Corporation and Apple Inc.
The two firms have been competing for the title of Better Brand Maker for more than three decades, accumulating thousands of loyal followers eager to stand up for their favorite products. Apple has long praised the benefits of design and simplicity, while Microsoft has painted Apple followers as hipsters who are overpaying to be part of a “cool” crowd.
Whether you are loyal to the fruit or the PC, the rivalry has captured the attention of the public and created a buzz around both companies’ latest products. Years of contention have been a driving force behind the marketing for the two companies.