About 10 or 15 years ago the Blockbuster Corporation acquired a lower end retail video enterprise. I don't remember the name exactly except that it was something like 10,000 videos. What was interesting about this acquisition was that blockbusters executives used it to test various promotional ideas and product ideas. In this way they could be highly experimental with the public and not affect their core brand.
I find myself wondering whether or not this is happened in the software business. In a way when Steve Jobs left Apple to start the Next company the operating system that he built Became the precursor to modern OS X.
This strategy has a number of business and technology advantages.