There’s a striking amount of competitive intelligence to be found in a recent Wall Street Journal article about closely held Arianespace. ( “French Firm Vaults Ahead In Civilian Rocket Market,” 25 June 2007 )
“After decades of struggles, Arianespace managed to outmaneuver the incumbents with innovative engineering, cutthroat pricing and moves that parlayed the financial clout of the European Union to beat out U.S. rivals in launching private satellites.”
Here are some of the tidbits we learn from this article:
Market share: Doubled to “well over 50%.”
Technology: The Ariane 5 uses new dual-launch technology to simultaneously propel two spacecraft into orbit — an idea U.S. competitors scoffed at initially.
New market: Manned space flight. NASA’s administrator is considering Arianespace as “Plan B” if the agency stumbles in developing its own replacement for the aging space shuttles.
Secret sauce: Operates more like an airline, and outsources ancillary work.
Costs: Cut its supplier base by nearly 15% and forced those that remained to cut prices.
Motto: Deliver “any weight, to any orbit, at any time.”
Plans: Details about future plans for the Spaceport at the equator.