Often there are questions – why in the world of information technologies some of the largest deals remain unrealized, and the most promising products do not develop further than plans? The reason is one – the relevant companies, like their leaders, simply did not understand what they were missing out of their hands. They could not predict the future course of events.
In the end, only a minor change in the circumstance in due time could entail not the appearance of either Microsoft or Apple. In the alternative world, the main search server would not be Google, but Yahoo. Our computer would be Xerox, we would use the CompuServe service, and the music would be listened to via RealPod. Of course, hindsight can easily remain intelligent.
But let’s take advantage of our advantage and take a look at the past events in the field of information technology. We will tell below about the 10 most annoying missed opportunities in the sphere of high technologies and suppose how they could change our world.
Microsoft’s rescue of Apple.
In the late 1990s, Apple was faced with great difficulties. Sales of Mac computers dropped significantly. On the stage came their cheaper clones from the companies Power Computing and Radius. Apple began to experience financial difficulties, and the cost of shares was about $ 5. The management of the company was looking for a new head, CEO, in the place of Gil Amelio. At this difficult moment, the company’s hand was extended by an unexpected friend, Microsoft. She made a financial injection of $ 150 million. In addition, Microsoft has promised to continue developing its suite of office software for MacOS. The talks were led by the famous Steve Jobs, the future head of Apple. Curiously, this news from his mouth was met with a whistle at the Macworld Expo conference. But this did not stop Jobs soon becoming a temporary CEO of Apple. Everyone knows the further course of events. Apple resurrected, becoming one of the world’s leaders in IT. What would happen if Microsoft did not take such a step? It is quite possible today in the market would reign WinPhone, music on them we would download via WinTunes. The market for films and online music would be stagnant or worse – it would be under the full control of Hollywood dealers. And all users are eagerly awaiting the release of a better alternative to Windows.
Underestimation of Google.
In the mid-1990s, nobody knew about Google. At that time, the most advanced search engine was not even Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos or Hot Wired. Leadership belonged to the search engine Open Text. It was she, like Google today, who made the search most quickly, accurately, covering the entire amount of information. In 1995, Open Text managers reasonably claimed that their system was able to index every word of the 5 million documents that at that time were the World Wide Web. In the same year, Open Text technology could be introduced into its services by Yahoo. But after two years of cooperation Open Text decided not to continue to develop its search technologies, moving to work on corporate data management systems. Only a year later a new player appeared on the stage – Google. This step of the leader company can be considered a real mistake and a missed opportunity. In Open Text at that time felt that the search engines of the Internet have low business potential. Now experts note that at its heyday, Open Text stood out from among themselves like a unique search technology, which is quite similar to what Google now uses. The new player entered the market, lagging behind the whole industry for three whole years. At that time it was necessary to assess whether the company will develop rapidly and invest, if it can bypass the leaders? The situation could have developed quite differently, and Google itself could be on a different place. One can say with certainty that the services of working with information on the Internet would be different, and Android would not have appeared.
Craigslist against newspapers.
In due time newspapers could not consider the terrible omen.It’s no secret that the newspapers are “dying,” but newspaper ads are probably already out of date. Many believe that the main weapon against them was the Craigslist service. This free resource for placing advertisements is accused of having knocked the ground from the feet of traditional print media. But this is what brought them a significant income for many years. So, in 2005, the market of thematic advertisements, which passed through the market, brought “only” 17.3 billion dollars to the owners of magazines and newspapers. But since then, resources such as Craigslist, eBay, Amazon and Google have at least doubled their presence in the market. The share of thematic advertisements in the press was twice less. But in 2005, when newspapers still dominated, a consortium of printers could buy Graigslist. Then the situation in the market would be quite different. At that time, it was only necessary to persuade the deal maker Craigslist Craig Newmark. He himself told in January 2008 that he should not exaggerate his company’s role in reducing the incomes of the newspaper industry. This myth was beneficial for the newspaper-makers themselves. The same Newmark notes that to date the biggest problem of newspapers have become facts and their relevance.
CompuServe and lost leadership.
If you look at the current Internet, you can find a network filled with social networks, interactive resources, user information. However, in reality it is just a version of the CompuServe resource, adapted to the current realities, which was launched in 1994. But in due time this company and could not become the leader in innovative computer technologies, having lost the battle AOL and its 50 billion “free” CD. In his book How to Find Customers in the World of the Internet, Gregory Kip recalls that in the early 90’s, the CompuServe information service was an impressive set of opportunities that others could go and go. The company had a loyal customer base, an abundance of information about their tastes, a useful knowledge base and almost complete absence of any competitors in this niche. The service was unclaimed for a trivial reason – the company did not want to invest money in its advantages in order to then monetize the results. Soon on the horizon appeared giant AOL, which offered unlimited unlimited tariffs. This has become a weighty alternative to the hourly rates of CompuServe. The user interface was simple, besides, aggressive marketing of CDs was added. Those customers who used the services of CompuServe switched to the Internet, the company supported its technology poorly. In 1997, AOL acquired CompuServe completely, and as a result, for ten years it completely disappeared into the IT market. Gregory Kip believes that the reason for failure lies in not even one missed opportunity, but in a whole series of mistakes. The fate of CompuServe can be a lesson on how a good idea can disappear.
A change in the course of the recording industry.
The music industry, like no one, can reproach itself for missed opportunities. In 1999, the light file appeared Shaun Fenning’s file-sharing network “Naspter”. People have the opportunity to easily share music directly in real time. This could not be appealed to record companies that instantly sued Napster, accusing that of helping to infringe copyrights. CEO of “Napster”, Hank Bury, proposed a compromise for the music industry. Music could be distributed in the network on the principle of radio, the performers would be paid honoraria. But this appeal was ignored. Soon, users of “Napster” migrated to other P2P networks, for example, Gnutella and Grokster. The American Sound Recording Association has received a strong enemy – musical pirates. The year 2000 became a landmark when the mp3.com site launched a special service that allows users to upload tracks from their personal music collections and provide them to other people. The record companies again sued for complicity in piracy, winning it. Service mp3.com was sold, and the business model just changed. Then followed a string of suits of record companies against Grokster, Morpheus, Kazaa and thousands of other music resources of this kind. As a result, today the world of digital music is ruled by sales of subscription to music content and streaming services, like Pandora. At one time, the market leaders of sound recording ignored the call to unite with Napster, mp3.com and other companies providing similar services. Today, instead of ships, it would be possible to control the sales of digitized music, and the problem of piracy would not be so acute.
Another way to Xerox.
This story is considered classic. More than 10 years before the appearance of personal computers running Windows and Mac, long before the microcomputers MITS Altair, there was Alto. It was the world’s first computer with a user interface in the form of windows. It was developed by Xerox company, the product had a mouse, the ability to connect to the local network and the text document editor “Vision”, arranged on the principle of “get what you see.” However, in the distant 1973, the personal computer market simply did not exist, so Xerox simply did not know what to do with her revolutionary creation. The company created several thousand such computers, which were placed in the universities of the country. According to legend, in 1979, the Xerox Research Center in Palo Alto was visited by Steve Jobs. Soon many features of Alto appeared in the first Apple computers – Lisa and Mac. Xerox eventually realized its mistake, starting work on the promotion of the Xerox Star graphic workstation. It is based on the technologies developed earlier for Alto. But it was already quite late. Today, personal computers with Windows and Mac reign on the market, but everything could be different.
Digital Research and Microsoft.
This story is also considered classic. In 1980, IBM was looking for some developer of a disk operating system for its new personal computer. At that time, the choice as Microsoft was extremely dubious. Even Bill Gates himself suggested to the giant company to try as developer Gary Kildall of Digital Research. At that time, he already was the author of the operating system CP / M for microcomputers. According to the legend, Kildall decided not to consider the IBM proposal, at that moment he was hurrying to the plane. In reality, it was not like that – Gary flew to a meeting with another customer, and he instructed the negotiations with IBM to his wife. She somehow decided that the proposal of the “blue giant” was not profitable enough, we’ll send the representatives of the company back home. Then IBM was forced to turn to Bill Gates. He and his partner Paul Allen quickly created MS-DOS, which was based on the development of Tim Paterson’s QDOS (from the English Quick and Dirty Operating System or “OS in a hurry”), which itself was created on the basis of CP / M. As a result, IBM will provide users of the first personal computer with MS-DOS for $ 60 and one of the CP / M versions for 240. Probably, it’s not surprising that the less expensive product survived as a result. But before the creation of MS-DOS, the largest development of Microsoft was various versions of programming in BASIC. DOS was the first step to the success of the company, who knows, could Microsoft become what it is today without a contract with IBM?
War disc formats.
At one time, Sony and Toshiba decided not to seek a compromise on the issue of a single format for laser discs. As a result, the war of formats of high-resolution disks cost both parties dearly. On the one hand, Sony played with its Blu-ray, and on the other – Toshiba with its HD DVD. Disputes between powerful opponents have been conducted since 2002, each one alternately attracted to its side allies who promised to support this particular format.2008 was a turning point in the war, Sony literally stabbed the knife in the back of the enemy – for 400 million dollars, one of the main supporters of HD DVD, the company Warner Brothers Studios, began to support Blu-ray. It is curious that such a war to companies was not a novelty, in the mid-nineties they also fought for different high-definition video formats. Then the differences managed to lead to a common denominator, the efforts were combined. As a result, there was a universal digital disk – DVD. At the same time, both companies missed the opportunity to create a single format for high-resolution discs, which led to significant losses for both Sony and Toshiba. If in 2002, both companies joined forces, today we would enjoy the dominance of high-definition discs in the market for video content carriers. Today, 1 sold Blu-ray disc has as many as 10 DVDs. The future generally belongs to streaming video and systems that provide video on the user’s request.
Many people believe that the iPod was invented by Steve Jobs. In fact, this is not so. At one time, he simply agreed to cooperate with Tony Fadell, who in autumn 2000 could not convince the management of the company Real Networks in the attractiveness of his invention. There they did not appreciate the idea of creating a completely new type of music player. Yes, and former employer Fadella, Philips, was skeptical of such thoughts. By the time the market was saturated with MP-3 players. But the concept model of Tony was radically different from the generally accepted standards. His player was thinner, smaller, and the content delivery system gave music lovers simple ways to fill their player with new music. But Steve Jobs is famous for his active work in promoting the design of iPods. Apple finalized the content delivery system by giving it the name iTunes. As a result, about 80% of the digital music market today belongs to Apple. Tony Fadell himself worked in the office, developing iTunes until November 2008. And real Networks is still producing the same players, but its revenues can hardly be compared to what Apple gets from iTunes alone.
In 2006, Facebook was just two years old. At that time, many believed that this social network is intended only for students from prestigious universities. Although there were already 8 million registered on Facebook, could it be compared to the one hundred millionth MySpace? When Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, Yahoo company offered a tidy sum of a billion dollars (and in 2005, the amount paid by Rupert Murdoch, for MySpace was half that) all advised him to take the money without thinking. Mark, who at that time was not yet 23 years old, agreed. The parties signed the contract in June 2006. But then Yahoo published disappointing data about its financial condition, and its shares in one day fell by almost a quarter. To reduce costs, the company’s CEO, Terry Samel, decided to reduce the transaction amount and offered Zuckerberg $ 800 million already. This time the young man refused. Yahoo returned to the original conditions in two months, but it was too late. Today Facebook has more than 600 million users, and the company’s value is at least $ 35 billion. A few years have passed, and Yahoo, having replaced several directors, still struggles to survive.