January 29, 2007

Ten Tech Companies That Blew It in the Past Two Decades

David Louis Edelman has compiled a list of the top 10 tech companies that have blown some sort of technical or business advantage in the 20 years or so. It's a very interesting and instructive list:

  1. Atari
  2. Netscape
  3. Palm
  4. America Online
  5. Apple (before Steve Jobs returned)
  6. Sony
  7. Gateway
  8. Compaq
  9. Intuit
  10. Real Networks

The article is definately worth reading. His closing quote:
So there we have it: ten tech companies, ten high-profile failures. The main causes? Seems to me they are failure of nerve, failure to innovate, excessive greed, excessive litigiousness, and overwhelming fear of Microsoft. Am I missing anything?

I think that there are a lot of lessons to learn from this list. First of all, the price to pay for our own organization for these failures of nerve, innovation and fear. In particular, for academic institution, failures of nerve seem particularly dangerous. For a lot of reasons, it's just too easy to sit still sometimes. Lack of money, lack of personnel to take on new projects, committee paralysis, the list is endless. The other lesson to learn is not to put our eggs in one corporate or technological basket too quickly. The companies we rely on to keep us running may just as easily fall victim, leaving us holding the bag. Via SFSignal.

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