General Motors and Microsoft have made their beds, and now there they must lie.
General Motors rarely worried about building better cars. They focused on building the market. Their true innovation wasn't new technology or techniques, but market segmentation and brand building (ie - Cadillac for the wealthy, Chevy for the workers, and Buicks in between). Because the market was so new and growing so fast, no one knew to expect quality. They were simply excited to have a car.
Ford and Chrysler barely kept up. And any manufacturer who actually took their time innovating a better, more reliable vehicle, like 'Tucker', simply never got a chance to play.
More recently, Microsoft did the same thing. Quality wasn't so important in early computing. They offered such a drastic improvement over the typerwriter, even very faulty computers saved piles of time and money.
Neither GM nor Microsoft ever attempted to be best. They merely rushed to be first. And it worked well, but it only worked because the market was young and their buyers lacked any point of comparison. Microsoft and GM both were then able to leverage their massive market dominance, making it almost impossible for new competition to emerge.
Stopping new competition will shore up profits and growth for a bit, but eventually the public grows disgruntled with the lack of innovation. Under the weight of their own over-confidence, these mega-companies eventually stumble. And when they do the crowds tend to cheer.
We see Amazon now repeating these same formulas to dominate online retail. They didn't have to be best because they were first. They got in so early, and grew so fast even Target and Walmart now stand nervously watching their every move.
But no matter how mighty, competitors eventually will emerge. GM was blind-sided by the Japanese, building across an ocean and outside GM's regulatory control. Microsoft was blind-sided by mobile and social media that sidestep their software altogether.
Who will blind-side Amazon? Perhaps it will never happen. Perhaps it will be you.