Sunday, May 9, 2010


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

content with.

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

storage space.

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

operating system.

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

execs packing.

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, 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment