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Ask HN: Do the big tech companies know their competitors' plans?
8 points by lunchbox on Oct 26, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments
It seems unlikely to me that a major tech company could manage to keep development of its new products secret from its competitors, for the following reasons:

- The stakes are extremely high; knowing your competitor's plans early can make or break a business.

- The major tech companies are constantly hiring employees away from each other, resulting in plenty of employees who know about the competitor's most recent plans.

This kind of activity may be illegal, but there's no shortage of examples of corporations getting away with bending or surreptitiously breaking the rules.

So: Does Steve Jobs know Google's product roadmap? Does Eric Schmidt know what the next iPhone will look like? (And so on.)

Here in Germany there's a rumor that when Mercedes launches a new car-model, the next day it's in the parking lot of BMW where the engineers are taking it apart completely to see what is new at Mercedes.

In fact, when they make a new car, they send one to BMW, Audi, Volkswagen etc. and expect them to do the same in return. As if saying: "You're going to do it anyway, so here, have one."

I assume something similar might be going on at big tech companies such as Sony or Microsoft. But I do not think they know what their competitors are planning for next year other than observing what trends are currently hot and what new technologies are becoming available.

Don't forget that Apple and Google work together, as do Apple and Microsoft. So they will know some of each others' roadmaps, quite legitimately.

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