Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, has announced that the company will allow others to use his electric car's patents free of any licensing fees. This was met with incredulity in many quarters. We have become accustomed to patent battles (Apple vs. Samsung anyone?), so a free sharing of patent technologies on this scale makes waves.
When you think about it, however, this is one more example of Musk's creative thinking. If other auto manufacturers adopt Tesla's technology, there will be more electric vehicles on the road. That means that there will be more auto mechanics that will be forced to learn how to service these cars. It also means that more charging stations will sprout up.
Tesla's challenge is not competition from other electric cars, but competition from fossil fuel vehicles. At the point where electric cars become the dominant type of vehicle, Musk's strategy will have to change. By that time, presumably he will have innovated further, enabling him to continue to keep the competition at bay.
We don't have an Elon Musk at Bartizan, but in our own way we have followed a similar strategy since introducing, iLeads, the first mobile trade show lead retrieval app, in 2009. We had to decide how much information to share with customers and competitors. We could have taken an approach that would have required anyone interested in our iLeads app to provide information about themselves online before we would release a demo of the app for their use. There was concern that by sharing too much information, we would make it easier for our competitors to develop similar technology.
In the end, we decided to openly share information, not only with customers and prospects, but with competitors, as well. Before long, we had a host of imitators, as some feared. However, as the concept of mobile lead retrieval gained currency among our competitors, we found, as expected, that show organizers and exhibitors became more open to this new way of capturing leads. Had Bartizan been the sole provider of a mobile lead retrieval app, acceptance would have come much more slowly.
I often hear that now "everyone offers a mobile lead retrieval app", to which I say "Great!". Just as Tesla sees fossil fuel cars as the competition, we see dedicated lead retrieval hardware and business cards as the competition. And just as Tesla has plans for more innovation, Bartizan has plans for mobile lead retrieval that will make it even more affordable, even easier to use and capable of delivering even more utility.