You’ve got to admit, consumers are fickle creatures, and not just about our choice of restaurants. When it comes to technology, the only thing most of us are loyal to is a discount. We may think we love tech brands, but that’s only true as long as they deliver the goods. Miss a few product cycles and, next thing you know, today’s Apple is tomorrow’s Sony.
All these brands were important in their day ... but not this day. In some cases, their demise has taken forever. Others were shockingly sudden or mercifully quick, depending on your perspective. Marketers like to say, “Differentiate or die,” but failing to innovate, reinvent yourself and at least keep up with the trends will kill you just the same. It can happen to any brand, even…
How many CEOs does it take to fix Yahoo? Actually, I haven’t a clue. Unfortunately, neither does Marissa Mayer. She thought “six” was a charm but she was wrong. All Mayer’s sizzle and acquisitions failed to stem the web portal’s slide into obscurity. Once it spins off the Alibaba investment and does something with Yahoo Japan, all that’s left is an embarrassingly miniscule and still shrinking ad business.
When Steve Jobs opted not to support Flash on iOS devices, he condemned the video technology to a slow and painful demise. It’s an enormous memory hog, a security risk and … did I forget to mention it doesn’t work on iPhone and iPad? Not that HTML5 is any better, mind you. And some gamers and developers will miss Flash, but this die was cast long ago in Cupertino.
Sony ceased to be an innovator in consumer electronics so long ago it’s probably been a decade since any of us considered it anything but a generic brand. There is one exception but PlayStation is its own brand; gamers wouldn’t even notice the difference if the name Sony disappeared. Sure, Sony makes movies, but we all know it’s really still Columbia Pictures … and Hollywood.
There was a time when you couldn’t walk into a boardroom or an airport lounge without seeing four or five execs or VCs thumbing away on their Crackberrys. Nobody could resist the tug to reply to emails in real time. It somehow made you feel important – better than all the little people who had to be connected to a local network. Try using a Blackberry in an investor meeting today and watch your funding disappear.
It’s easy to forget that the “MS” in “MSNBC” stands for Microsoft. The software giant sold its stake in the cable news channel a decade ago and pulled the plug on msnbc.com in 2012. The website has since been rebranded nbcnews.com. Why the cable channel continues to carry the MS prefix is anyone’s guess.
This may be hard to believe but Nokia once dominated the global cellphone and smartphone markets. For years and years the Finnish company’s market share was light years ahead of its nearest competitor. Then came Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo who, like Blackberry’s co-CEOs, was taken completely by surprise by the iPhone. It’s still a network infrastructure company but Microsoft owns what little is left of the phone biz.
The company that once dominated the internet still generates and aggregates an enormous amount of traffic, but if it changed its name to Huffington Post, I doubt if anyone would notice. Besides, when you see an aol.com email address, what pops into your mind? That’s right: dial-up. Personally, I think the brand is permanently tarnished.
Nobody understands how Radio Shack survived as long as it did. I guess there were more hobbyist geeks who couldn’t live without being able to hop down to the local strip mall at a moment’s notice and fill out a form in triplicate to buy a five-cent transistor than any of us thought. Or not. Bonsoir, Radio Shack.
The company whose name was once synonymous with photography was run into the ground by incompetent leadership. I bet you didn’t know that Kodak actually invented the digital still camera way back in 1975, but decided to just sit on it for a quarter century and milk a bloated company with a dying product line until there was virtually nothing left.
This is actually a trick one. The site already shut down in March and, sure enough, everyone just switched to Re/code, Engadget, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Mashable and The Verge without missing so much as a keystroke.
Opinion: Some once-great technology companies slowly fade into obscurity. Others go in a heartbeat: here today, brand road kill tomorrow.