Many of the world's top technology companies have either foundered, shrunk, grown obsolete, been acquired or spun off. Most companies, of course, never get to the top, and the few that do, find it difficult to stay there. Many of these companies have fallen into one trap or the other.
Companies that failed to be agile.
Let us take a look at some of the companies which never did stand the test of time and failed to innovate.
1. RIM / Blackberry
There was a time when the primary mode of business communication was BBM and Everyone wanted to know your PIN. It was the phone to have in the mid to late 2000's (in 2007 it had more than half of the market share of phones in the US.) Later Blackberry sold BBM rights.
On June 29, 2007 the iPhone was released. At first, Blackberry ignored touch screen based technology insisting their phones would remain the de-facto standard for enterprises especially since the iPhone struggled early with solid enterprise email security. But by dominating in the consumer market and slowly promoting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) standard within companies, Apple redefined the market and left Blackberry stumbling and blinded by their own success. Their initial inaction snowballed into a succession of failed attempts to innovate.
Palm produced both a portable wireless device and an operating system for portable hardware devices and desktops. Palm launched its Palm Pilot hardware device in in 1996 as a personal organizer. In 1999, it released its Palm V. The Palm Treo smartphone was developed by Handspring Which Palm acquired. In the quarter that ended in September 2005, Palm sold 470,000 Treo units, up 160% from the same quarter the year before. At that point, three companies dominated the smartphone market: Palm, Research-In-Motion, maker of the Blackberry, and cell phone giant Nokia. By the September 2007 quarter, Treo sales had only moved up to 689,000, but sales of the Blackberry hit almost 3.2 million and the newly launched Apple iPhone sold more than a million units during the same period after it debuted on June 29th of that year.
Palm, one of the earliest makers of smartphones, was unable to follow up its success in the personal organizer business. Analysts pointed to the fact that the company was slow to realize that consumers wanted wireless voice and data from the same device. According to ZDNet, "Palm just couldn't find the formula for over-the-air synchronization with Microsoft Outlook, which business users demand and RIM nailed, with its BlackBerry device. "Palm also suffered from multiple product delays. Palm could not translate its lead in one form of consumer electronics device to another.
In the 1980?, purchasing a basic Compaq desktop computer was a status symbol of going digital. The company spent many years developing their own proprietary components and drivers.
Compaq focussed on branding their computer desktops and laptops as premium products. Meanwhile competitors such as Dell quickly took the top spot by focussing on the direct sales channel. Meanwhile, Compaq relied heavily on its resellers, which did not work well. When the company couldn't stand the competition, it was sold it to another trouble company, Hewlett-Packard. HP could not work its magic on Compaq machines and the brand disappeared.
AOL was an internet media giant known for providing online media services and electronic bulletins. AOL was a great innovator that was instrumental in the digital revolution through web portals, instant messaging and chat rooms.
Post its merger with Times warner, which had full control of the traditional media, the strategies changed. AOL shifted its strategy to be a free portal and its partnerships were unprofitable resulting in heavy decline of advertising sales. The emergence of social media networks and social media advertising, poor execution of content distribution, loss of subscribers and fallout partnerships quickly made AOL obsolete.
Its first big success came with car radios, which led to two-way radios, which eventually led Motorola to build and sell the world's first mobile phone. Motorola dominated that business as recently as 2006, when it introduced the trendy RAZR, the biggest-selling mobile phone ever at the time.
Motorola failed to focus on smartphones that can handle email and other data, and rapidly lost share to newcomers such as RIM, Apple, LG and Samsung. Motorola was vanquishing so swiftly that its cell phone division became a perennial money-loser and the firm announced its spin off into a separate company. following which it was acquired by Google and later Lenovo in quick succession.
It is difficult to attribute failure to one aspect and in most cases, it is a combination of various factors that lead to failure. Given the rapid change in the technology environment, it is important for companies to innovate and be ahead of the technology curve to stay relevant.
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