When you turn your mind to the mashup space, generally the wonderful world of WebAPI's and app x's appear in the middle eye, but something far more interesting has been gaining traction over the past 6-12 months, and that is, the business mashup!
Now, a while back I spoke about the concept of brand layering, and when you look at the concept of business mashups, the same power attracts. The main idea behind this I reckon is something I call winning your losses. What does this mean? Well, think about the two areas of business that contribute to success, the ratio of win/loss. The loss portion is always the area that represents the most potential for growth; basically, if you can build a differentiation strategy around the factors that contributed to your losses (competitor technology, weak functionality, brand lethargy/narrowness, etc), then you have a great chance of converting future losses into wins.
So back to the whole business mashup space, when you look at some of the great business mashups that are coming together, and not just the technical space, it's all about creating strength points in your loss spaces by leveraging another businesses passive abilities (those are the things they do well, that aren't core business, but really boost your businesses weak areas). The best way I like to think about this is, companies do stuff right? And some of the stuff they do is based on core business, like making jeans for example, but they also have side effects! Again, for example, Dave's DNA might make jeans, but my brand also seems to engender respect from a large segment of customers who also skateboard, but these are not my key demographic! Now, take Frank's Hard Hats, they make top line protective equipment, and have a customer segment that covers everyone from roller bladers to school kids. Now, Dave's DNA could really use mindshare with school kids for their new kids brand (Frank's Hard Hats has this), and Frank's Hard Hats could really use exposure into the skater community for their new range of extreme helmets.
So what happens in the Dave's DNA x Frank's Hard Hats business mashup is really a trade of side-effect-mindshare. It's a classic win-win, because the risk is zero (the junction points between the two business are non-competitive and already exist independently), the gain is compound (it adds to each businesses trade ability with minimum impact), and the resulting mindshare creates a great new space for the end customers.
Now, you're probably thinking, well, this happens all the time, in the form of joint ventures, etc. And you're right, to the degree that two brands might mash-up (like Missy Elliot and Adidas), but the new biz mashup is more powerful, and focuses on truly "mashing" products, services and experience (technology or not).
Now again, this is more of an idea, because I'm yet to see two popular companies "mashup", and really layer their services, products, and experiences into something that brings a cross-segment of customers together. Whether it be online or not, this kind of power (that is being realized in software/app mashups) would be truly immense.
Maybe some upcoming projects will shed some light on this...