Of course, we can understand. Companies see a competitor dominating a market and want a piece of the action. It happens every day in business – where companies launch their own version of an established product. Here we look at four of the most famous "me too" products and see whether they managed to take a slice of the market after all. (For some suggestions on where to spend your money, read Top Tech For Your Buck.)
TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

Microsoft Zune Vs. Apple iPod
The Apple iPod changed how we think about music. The iPod is a line of portable media players created, and marketed, by Apple that was launched in 2001, and has seen numerous reinventions since the initial models. Unbelievably, this was only 10 years ago, but since then the iPod has been the "must have" gadget. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft wanted a piece of this market, and thus launched the Zune in 2006 – its take on a portable media device.

Microsoft was entering an area utterly dominated by Apple, and although the Zune was deemed a good product overall, it did not hold a candle to the established and fashionable iPod. At the time of its launch, Shawny Chen, a research analyst for Current Analysis, said that in order to become a serious contender against Apple, Microsoft would have to make further adjustments to the Zune, especially considering the number of unfavorable reviews the device had already received. "Current Analysis" was right, and the Zune never managed to take hold of the market. Zune's market share decreased to 2% in the first half of 2009, according to the NPD Group. Finally, just last month, Microsoft announced that it is pulling the plug on the Zune, and is encouraging users to transition to Windows Phone. With the Zune gone, consumers still have many options for music players, yet iPod's reign continues.

Android Vs. iPhone
When Apple launched its first iPhone in the summer of 2007, Google answered back with its mobile OS, Android, within two years. And there started a long war between the two giants over the global smartphone market. Steve Jobs famously claimed that Google's Android platform was a "wholesale" rip-off of the iPhone, and he was willing to go "thermo –nuclear war" on them over the matter.

Ever since, there have been endless debates and discussions about whether Android has taken the market share from Apple. Of course, the debate is flawed, because you cannot compare Android to an iPhone. One is an operating system and one is a hardware device. Currently, there are six major manufacturers: Dell, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola and Samsung making about 42 smartphones and growing using the Android operating system. In addition, due to the open source nature of Android's source code, many other smaller manufacturers are using it on their device as well.

By comparing all Android operating systems with the iPhone, research company Canalys estimated that in the second quarter of 2009 Android had a 2.8% share of worldwide smartphone shipments. According to Gartner, a November 15, 2011 press release states that at the end of the third quarter in 2011, Android possessed a market share of 52.5%, and has become the top-selling smartphone platform. As of November 2011, Google said that almost 400,000 new Android devices are activated daily. More than 100 million devices have been activated in total. (For more on Apple's strategy when releasing new products, see The Power Of Steve Jobs.)

Barnes & Noble Vs. Amazon
Barnes & Noble saw an opportunity to take on the Amazon Kindle and Amazon's dominance of the eBook market. Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch, introduced the seven-inch Nook Tablet, which boasted twice the storage capacity of Amazon's newly announced Kindle Fire tablet, and also had a memory card slot for expandability. Barnes & Noble have had some success taking on the eBook market, managing to bag themselves a 27% stake. Both, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, have now realized how important the eBook and eReader are to the future of their business, and are making a conscious effort to take a large market in this growing business.

Barnes & Noble's Nook release is also now trying to take on Apple – which is half the price of Apple's cheapest iPad. The new Nook tablet is looking to battle the Amazon Kindle Fire with more memory, and Apple's iPad with aggressive pricing. The tablet landscape is in store for some changes.

Windows 7 Vs. OS X
Once again, Apple is back up for discussion as OS X is the Mac operating system compared to Microsoft's Windows. Did Windows copy Mac's OS X with their Windows 7 product? Microsoft rebutted the suggestion that it based the look and feel of Windows 7 on the Apple Mac OS. Last year, a Microsoft manager slipped and said that what his company had tried to do with Windows 7 was "create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics." Microsoft quickly retracted this comment.

If Microsoft has tried to copy OS X, then reviews suggest that Windows hasn't fully succeeded. Windows 7 has not addressed the security issues, the interface is not as intuitive as Mac's, OS X boots up much faster and the list goes on.

Windows computers still have much to offer. One of the big things they offer is choice. Consumers are given the opportunity to spend their hard-earned dollars on a machine that is better at fitting their individual needs. Windows consumers can choose to spend less if their main use is surfing the internet and word processing. They are also given the option to buy machines better suited for gaming or business needs.

With a market share of over 90%, Windows machines offer the convenience of knowing that most of the task done on one computer can be done on another. As Windows software continues to dominate the market, the question whether it copied Apple's version remains a mystery. (For on the battle between Microsoft and Apple, check out Microsoft Vs. Apple: Does Equal Size Mean Equality?)

The Bottom Line
The argument of who copied who will go on and on. Of course, unless one company wants to sue another over copyright or patent infringement, the real question in business is whose product the consumer buys most, and whether there is space in the market for a competitor's version. In the end, consumers are the ones who make the decision of which product they like the best by going out and buying it.

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Will J.C. Penney Come Back in 2016? (JCP)

    J.C. Penney is without a doubt turning itself around, but that doesn't guarantee the stock will respond immediately.
  2. Entrepreneurship

    How an Internet Sales Tax Will Affect Your Small Business

    Learn about how the Marketplace Fairness Act may impact small business owners should it pass in the House and what the act requires from business owners.
  3. Savings

    Craft Beer Clubs – Bargain or Not?

    If you're an aficionado of artisanal brews (or would like to be), a beer club can be a palate-pleasing, albeit pricey, way to expand your hops horizon.
  4. Stock Analysis

    When Will Dick's Sporting Goods Bounce Back? (DKS)

    Is DKS a bargain here?
  5. Stock Analysis

    Has Urban Outfitters Lost its Way? (URBN)

    Urban Outfitters just made a bold move. Will it pay off?
  6. Stock Analysis

    Is Walmart's Rally Sustainable? (WMT)

    Walmart is enjoying a short-term rally. Is it sustainable? Is Amazon still a better bet?
  7. Savings

    Are Wine Clubs Worth It?

    Some points to consider, before committing to a membership for yourself – or as a gift. The right club can also help you save money over the holidays.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Kohl's: Should You Stock Up or Sell? (KSS)

    Many traders are bearish on Kohl's, but long-term investors might want to take a closer look for this simple reason.
  9. Stock Analysis

    GoPro's Stock: Can it Fall Much Further? (GPRO)

    As a company that primarily sells discretionary products, GoPro and its potential falls right in line with consumer trends. Is that good or bad?
  10. Stock Analysis

    How Macy's Will Refresh its Brand

    Macy's is heading in the wrong direction, but what's the potential for a turnaround?
  1. Where can you buy NetSpend reload packs?

    You can only purchase NetSpend reload packs at Giant Eagle, Albertsons, Roundy's and Pathmark supermarkets. NetSpend cards ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What role does the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) play in the finished product?

    Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) do not typically play much of direct role in determining the finished product. However, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Cyber Monday

    An expression used in online retailing to describe the Monday following U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. Cyber Monday is generally ...
  2. Bar Chart

    A style of chart used by some technical analysts, on which, as illustrated below, the top of the vertical line indicates ...
  3. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  4. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  5. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  6. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
Trading Center