This essay originally appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Sign up here.
Frenemies make the world go ‘round, especially in today’s technology industry.
Did you catch the news yesterday? Apple (AAPL), that decidedly consumer-friendly American giant, and SAP (SAP), Europe’s largest software maker by a long shot, announced a partnership to work together on improving the mobile device experience for large companies.
The details—a few iPhones and iPads here, a dash of SAP’s HANA in-memory database there—are a bit like those announced in 2014 between SAP and another enormous American peer: IBM (IBM). Then, as now, the companies’ chief executives were photographed smiling broadly together, as if to say: “We shared the same cab on the way over—because we wanted to.”
And for those keeping score at home, you’ll recall that Apple and IBM struck a partnership in July of that year. The subject? Why, mobile applications for big businesses, of course.
Apple-SAP. SAP-IBM. IBM-Apple. Notice a pattern? We are in the midst of a great convening of global tech powers, who are uniting to tackle this mobile-first, cloud-based, data-driven shift in the way large corporations operate.
It is refreshing to see Fortune 500 and Global 500 fixtures teaming up to tackle the big problems. But all this dealmaking has me wondering: Who’s left out? When all this settles, who won’t be sitting at the cool kids’ table?
NewCo: TechCo, we have to talk to you.
TechCo: Is cloud computing a carb?
NewCo: TechCo, you’re using on-premise software. It’s Monday.
iCo: So that’s against the rules, and you can’t sit with us.
TechCo: Whatever. Those rules aren’t real.