Some biggest tech blunders
The last two decades have seen mindboggling growth in
technology space. There have been numerous innovations
and many unknown companies have risen to take their
position on the technology map. Alongwith these successes,
there also have been numerous failures and cases of missed opportunities.
PC World recently came out with a list of Stupidest Tech Company
Blunders. Have a look:
Yahoo fails to buy Facebook
Yes Yahoo was on the verge of buying today's biggest
social networking site Facebook in 2006. In 2006, the
media was abuzz with two-year-old Facebook being in
serious talks to sell itself to Internet media company
Yahoo for an amount that could approach $1 billion.
Yahoo $1 billion cash offer for Facebook is reportedly twice the amount
that Rupert Murdoch had spent for MySpace in 2005. Both are said to
have verbally agreed to enter the deal.
However, according to media reports Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
and the board decided to turn down the offer in lieu of building out the
company. In their estimates, Facebook was likely worth closer to $8
Microsoft rescues Apple
Few people know of Apple's savior in late nineties. The
time Mac sales were dwindling and the company was
running low on cash.
This was the time when Apple received a much-needed
cash aid of $150 million from a seemingly unlikely quarter: Microsoft. The
company also promised to continue developing its Mac Office suite. The
deal was brokered by then Apple consultant Steve Jobs.
Had Microsoft let Apple wither, it would have at least one rival less to
Real Networks finds iPod difficult
In late nineties when digital music players were still
not a reality, Tony Fadell envisioned the idea of
building a compact digital music player that were to
sport a quarter-sized hard drives which offered 5GB of
Fadell also thought that the new player could link on the internet with a
media service where users can buy music that could be legally downloaded
onto the player.
However, his idea was rejected by RealNetworks, on the ground that it
was a difficult to justify the creation of a separate personal music device
when the player they were selling was successful. Disappointed, Fadell
approached Phillips. His idea was turned off at Philips too.
Faddel then took his idea to Apple. The company lapped it up and gave
the world iPod. In 2001, the first iPod was released and came with a 5GB
Toshiba hard drive, ARM processors, and an operating system from Pixo,
a lithium polymer battery for added battery life.
According to reports Apple currently controls 80% of the digital music
market. In the second quarter ended March 2009,
Apple sold 11.01 million iPods during the quarter, representing 3% unit
growth over the year-ago quarter. In contrast to Apple, reports reveal Real
Networks' revenues are a fraction of what Apple makes from iTunes
Digital Research loss, Microsoft's gain
Not many know that Microsoft was not IBM's first
choice when the latter was looking for a disc
operating software. In fact, reportedly Bill Gates
himself suggested IBM to approach Gary Kildall of
Digital Research, the author of the CP/M
Kildall who is said to be busy with another
customer order, is said to have asked his wife Dorothy Kildall to negotiate
with IBM. Kildall not happy with the deal IBM was proposing sent the IBM
After this, IBM is said to have approached Bill Gates, who with Paul Allen
came up with MS-DOS. Rest is history. Incidentally, MS-DOS was based
on Tim Paterson's QDOS (the Quick and Dirty Operating System), which
was itself based on CP/M OS. MS-DOS 1.0 was released with IBM PC in
Later, IBM ended up offering both Microsoft's DOS (for $60) and a version
of CP/M ($240) to buyers of the original IBM PC.
Xerox dumps Alto
Even before World got Macintosh and Windowsbased
PCs, Xerox build Alto, the world's first
personal computer developed at Xerox PARC in
1973. Alto was the first computer to use the
desktop metaphor and graphical user interface
Alto was a small minicomputer, but it could be considered a personal
computer in contrast with the mainframes and other minicomputers of the
However, in 1973, there was no market for personal computers; this made
Xerox wonder what to do with Alto. The company donated a few thousand
units to various universities.
In fact, it is believed that in 1979 Steve Jobs visited Xerox PARC and saw
Alto. He is said to have incorporated many of Alto's features into Apple's
Lisa and Mac computers. Alto is also said to have influenced the first Sun
Later, Xerox is said to have realized its folly and began marketing Xerox
Star, a graphical workstation based on technology developed for Alto.
However, it was perhaps too late.
Music industry sues Napster
This is how the music industry lost its golden chance
to control the digital music market.
Napster was an online music file sharing service. The
technology allowed people to easily share their MP3
files among each other, bypassing the established
market for such songs. Shawn Fanning's creation
soon became a rage among most music lovers. With people making their
own compilation albums on recordable CDs with songs downloaded from
However, the record companies sued Napster for copyright infringement.
The then-Napster CEO Hank Barry called for the music industry to adopt
a radio-style licensing agreement that paid royalties to artists for music
distributed via Internet. However, the music industry didn't agree.
Napster fans moved on to other peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as
Gnutella and Grokster. In 2000 MP3.com, launched a service that allowed
users to upload songs from their own private CD collection and stream
them to any PC. However, it was also sued for copyright infringement.
Result is today music-subscription businesses and streaming services
dominate digital music. Had the record companies listened to Napster CEO
and found a middle path rather than suing these file sharing networks,
they might actually be controlling the digital music landscape.
Compuserve fails to dominate web
What led to Compuserve, the first major
commercial online service in the United States,
failing to become today's Web giant?
Founded in 1969, the company offered limited dialin
services in the mid-1970s. CompuServe
dominated the field during the 1980s and remained
a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by AOL.
In the year 1979, it offered online services and by mid-1980s CompuServe
became one of the largest information and networking services companies.
Compuserve was also the largest consumer information service in the
world at one point in time.
However, with the rise of the World Wide Web in 1994, the company's core
business started fading. The company also made an attempt to offer users
internet access with CompuServe services, an experiment that failed
In comparison to Compuserve, AOL offered flat-rate "unlimited" pricing
(versus CompuServe's hourly charges) and a simpler interface. The
company also launched a massive CD marketing campaign. According to
experts, what led to the company's downfall was the lack of the will to
invest in converting its advantages into a sustainable lead.
In 1997, CompuServe was acquired by AOL and the CompuServe
Information Service began operating as an online service provider and an
Internet service provider. The original CompuServe Information Service,
later rebranded as CompuServe Classic, was finally shut down on July 1,
Open Text dumps search
Microsoft Bing may take time to catch up with
Google (if it can); however, there was a search
engine that is said to have perfected the art of
searching as well as Google, Open Text. But, this
was till the company decided to abandon the search
In the mid-1990s, the hottest search engine technology was the Open Text
Web Index. Open Text was reportedly lauded for its speed, accuracy, and
comprehensiveness. The company in fact claimed to have indexed every
word on the roughly 5 million documents that constituted the Web at that
In 1995, Yahoo too incorporated Open Text's search technology into its
directory. However, two years after its partnership with Yahoo, Open Text
abandoned search and moved into enterprise content management. Just
another year, and Google made its entry and riding on the success of its
search went on to become Internet's numero uno.