Calling out your competitor publicly, and embarrassing them into making a change.
Don’t believe me it works? The most recent example comes from the Mozilla’s public condemnation of a new practice by Apple–which sneakily installs the company’s Safari browser on Windows computers. Mozilla owns the Firefox browser and so its CEO, John Lilly, went public with his concerns over the practice.
The result? Apple has now changed the way it presents the Safari install, as you can see below:
I’m sure Apple didn’t make the change only because of Lilly’s public tongue-lashing–others complained too–but it does demonstrate how the governance of your reputation isn’t just in the hands of your stakeholders.
Mozilla doesn’t have a stake in Apple, but it does have a vested interest in the company’s reputation. So long as Apple plays by the generally accepted rules of the browser industry, Mozilla will keep quiet and face the competitor on a level playing field. However, as shown in this instance, once Apple breaks the rules, Mozilla has the right to cry foul and bring the infraction to the attention of everyone else that has an interest in Apple, Mozilla, and the browser industry.
So, what can you learn from this?
- Monitor your competitor’s every move. Not only do you need to know about its news and developments, you need to know when it’s breaking the rules.
- Think twice about your own actions. As we mention in Radically Transparent, there are many types of online detractors, and your competitor is one of them. Step out of line and you may only face criticism from your customers (a problem enough) but you might also find your competitor weighs-in–and it may have the ear of mainstream media.
- Don’t cave to competitor, only your customers. As a business owner, I wouldn’t advise acknowledging a change in your actions, because your competitor called you out. Instead, focus on what your stakeholders want and appease them. That might be in line with your competitors demands, but Apple shows it doesn’t have to be. The company did make changes to the way it installs Safari on a PC, but didn’t go as far with the changes as Mozilla would have liked. While Mozilla can call this “a good first stepm” it’s voice has pretty much been muffled. Apple compromised, and so Mozilla knows that to continue pressing for further changes, will only make it look like a whining competitor, rather than the guardian of industry standards.
Any other observations? You know where to leave them. Thanks!