Blockbuster

It’s a shame that future generations won’t be able to understand the soul-crushing experience of a sold-out Blockbuster movie. Aside from the endless parade of late fees, Blockbuster was a weekend night tradition for most families.

Then Netflix happened.

Netflix sent videos you would’ve rented through Blockbuster straight to your home without due dates or late fees. Blockbuster was unconcerned and even had the opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million in 2000. They decided to meander along and not change a thing for the next four years while Netflix became more and more popular, and eventually went from a mail-order service to a streaming one.

In 2004 Blockbuster finally offered an online option, but it was too late.

On September 23, 2010 Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy. But I still have a VHS tape that has their “Please be kind, rewind” slogan, a precious memento of a failure to move with the times.


Blackberry

Do you remember your first “CrackBerry?” There was a time when the primary mode of business communication was BBM and everyone wanted to know your PIN. It was the phone to have in the mid- to late-2000’s (in 2007 it had more than half of the marketshare of phones in the US.)

But on June 29, 2007 the iPhone was released.

At first, Blackberry ignored touch screen based technology insisting their phones would remain the de-facto standard for enterprises especially since the iPhone struggled early with solid enterprise email security. But by dominating in the consumer market and slowly promoting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) standards within companies, Apple redefines the market and left Blackberry stumbling and blinded by their own success.

Their initial inaction snowballed into a succession of failed attempts to innovate. Blackberry currently has 0.8% of the Smartphone market share according to IDC.

Rumour has it that they are now working on a Siri-Like feature called Blackberry Assistant. They might be a little bit behind the curve on that one.


Yahoo

In 2005, Yahoo owned 21% of the online advertising market, #1 among all players. Yet today, they’re struggling maintain their #4 position behind Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

In fact, Yahoo could’ve done just about anything differently and they would still be #1. First, their desire to be an online portal instead of a dominant search player led them to outsource their search engine to Microsoft Bing.

They were supposed to be what Google ended up being but they got distracted along the way. They didn’t see the importance of search and instead focused on becoming a media giant.

Just a few of their missed innovations:

  • Google. In 2002 there was reportedly a deal struck for Yahoo to buy Google for $5 billion dollars. Then CEO Terry Semel refused to shell out the cash and the deal was squashed.
  • DoubleClick. DoubleClick was the dominant player in display ads throughout the late ‘90s and early 2000’s. Buying DoubleClick would’ve helped Yahoo strengthen their display ads as Google was gaining on them. Unfortunately they didn’t move quick enough and Google pounced on this opportunity.
  • Facebook. In 2006, Yahoo had a deal to buy the company for $1 billion. They then lowered their offer and Mark Zuckerburg backed out. Facebook is now valued x150 times their original asking price. Whoops.

Being a technology giant requires strategic mergers and acquisitions (and the innovative ideas they bring). Had a few of these situations gone differently, we might be “yahooing” instead of “googling.”