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An Alliance of Alliance Members

The other day Mixel announced a MIPI Alliance ecosystem partnership. So… is that a branch of the MIPI Alliance? A new MIPI Alliance? I was a bit confused. (Not an infrequent state of mind for me, but never mind…)

This gets to some of the subtleties of industry partnerships. If you’re not careful, you can run afoul of anti-trust collusion laws. These laws were put in place because, in the olden days, big companies would get together and divide up territories and agree on pricing and basically guarantee that they would all get rich at the expense of consumers, who would be stuck in a market with only illusory competition. (In the current US climate, the laws are probably considered meddlesome job-killing regulation, so who knows if they will survive…)

So even if a few companies get together informally for the innocent purpose of setting standards, they can get into trouble. Which is why standards bodies are carefully crafted with legal structures, rules, and bylaws that ensure their members aren’t entangled in collusion troubles.

Ecosystems are a bit different: they’re typically made up not of peers, but of complementary businesses that don’t compete. The idea is to provide a complete solution; the goal is to increase sales for all the members. There are a lot of ecosystems, formal and informal, and, as far as I can tell, there aren’t any formal requirements (even though they might have some competing members, or members with unrelated competing divisions).

So, in this particular case, after confirming with Mixel, we have various members of the MIPI Alliance, a standards body, forming an unnamed ecosystem to drive sales.

More info in their press release

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