For a while, some General Motors executives have been sporting "29" buttons in their lapels.
In case you forgot, the "29" was to remind everyone that GM's goal was to get 29 percent of the light-vehicle market in the United States.
In June, GM's share was about 26 percent.
There was a time, long ago, when GM executives supposedly wanted a stock price of $60 a share and a 60 percent share of the U.S. domestic car market in the same year that the GM chairman and the president turned 60 years old. GM didn't make it.
It's a different world today. Then, there were four domestic companies in the United States, plus Volkswagen and a few Japanese automakers. That was it. Those companies carved up about 95 percent of the market.
By today's standards, the American consumer didn't have nearly as much choice.
Now, you have a dozen automakers manufacturing in North America and another handful that don't build here but do sell imports here.
It would be impossible for GM to maintain its market share. When three truck manufacturers become five, market share declines.
As the world becomes more global, no company can maintain the share of its home market that it enjoyed a couple of decades ago - not Fiat in Italy, nor Saab or Volvo in Sweden, nor Renault or Peugeot in France.
There are too many competitors out to get you and your market share.
The only way to increase market share is to go where you're not.
There always will be an advantage for the home team. But when you see what happens to market share when imports come, it's obvious why countries such as Korea don't want to allow anyone else to sell there. Japan's rules are subtler but achieve the same goal.
As long as you can keep the competition out, you'll be able to maintain your market share.
But today in the United States, the consumer has more choices than ever. And in a decade or so, we'll see more choices from China and India and who knows where.
Despite the loss of market share, GM is still No. 1 in an ever-expanding marketplace. GM's revenues are far greater, even adjusting for inflation, than when GM was chasing a 60 percent share.
If the market weren't expanding, there wouldn't be anywhere near the number of competitors.
There is nothing like an expanding market to attract competitors.