It's hard to become the biggest at something. For companies, it often means understanding market opportunities, what the masses want and beating the hell out of the competition in price. It's not a field in which individuals can play without being a part of -- or leading -- an organization.
It's hard to become the best at something. Becoming the best often means relentless dedication to excellence, innovation and detail. Here companies and individuals are on more of an even field.
But becoming the biggest and the best at something? It seems those two things are at odds with one another. And if you take stock of the companies that purport to be one or the other -- or both -- you'll see how rare it is.
The brand of beer that outsells all the rest by orders of magnitude? That doesn't make it the best. I'd argue all the ones in my refrigerators (Yes, I have more than one. I like beer.) could vie for the best, but they are a proverbial drop in the bucket when sales volume is examined.
The author making the rounds on the talk-circuit with a book that's burning up the charts? Neither are the best. But any that hard-core book fans would agree is the best is likely unapproachable by the masses.
Though it's argued often, biggest is a quantitative measurement that leaves little to interpretation. I understand that best is subjective, but it's a demonstrable qualitative characteristic. So while companies often say "we're the biggest and the best", they aren't. They may be one or the other, but it's difficult to be both.
Or is it? Here are a few examples of where I think the biggest is also the best. I'd love to get your opinion on these as well as some other examples.
- MP3 players - The iPod reigns king in sales and in usability.
- Ketchup - Not that I use it, but I have it on good authority that Heinz is pretty tasty.
- Blizzard Entertainment - I'm no gamer and I understand there is a wide-range of opinion on this, but WoW seems to be one of those waves that didn't quit. And when Diablo 3 hits the stands, it'll do it again.
- Search engines -- Google. No further discussion required, though I'm sure some of you are Quixotic enough to try.
There have to be others. Please discuss in the comments.