The tech industry is one of the ultimate expressions of “survival of the fittest.” It seems a day does not go by that a company or hot tech product that was on top is being left for corporate road kill and yesterday’s also-ran is the most valuable company on the planet.
- Before Steve Jobs re-joined Apple in 1996, the stock was trading for about $6.00/share and there was chatter that Sun Microsystems would buy Apple. Today, Sun no longer exists as an independent company and Apple is king of the world.
- Just five years ago, MySpace was the most popular social networking site in the U.S. and was poised to take over the world. It was so hot that the dark lord Rupert Murdoch forked over $580 million for MySpace in 2005. As Murdoch’s colleague Homer Simpson might say: “D’oh!” Facebook came along and today MySpace is essentially worthless.
- I once used Yahoo! for all my searches. Be honest: when was the last time you used ANYTHING but Google? (Sure, Bing is pretty good, but I don’t use it and neither do you.)
- In May 2010, Microsoft, with great fanfare and after about a $1 billion in R&D, launches it “Kin” mobile phones. Hope you didn’t sneeze because they were such a hit that Microsoft killed them off after a month and a half.
- While BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is (to quote Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”) “…not dead yet,” its travails are well documented, having gone from first to almost worst in the past 12 months or so.
- Just this week Motorola, the same guys who created the walkie-talkie and the RAZR cell phone, decided that it can’t compete against Apple and Google in the phone and tablet space, so it sold itself to… Google. And HP decided the same thing just one year after paying a billion dollars for Palm and just two months after launching its own tablet.
I don’t mean for this to be a snarky litany of tech failures. To the contrary, in a way, this should be viewed as a celebration of innovation, capitalism and corporate Darwinism.
Technology moves so fast that the next best thing is always just around the corner and you can throw all the marketing and PR and spin you want at a product, but at the end of the day, customers decide who wins and who loses. In a world where banks are too big to fail and the alleged smart guys at places like Goldman Sachs would be on the unemployment line if they didn’t have the U.S. taxpayer to bail them out, it’s great to see an industry that thrives and dies on its own wits, merits, successes and failures.
Will Google always be on top? Can Apple continue its run? And nothing could possibly replace Facebook, right?
Well, if I were in Las Vegas a few hundred million years ago, I would have bet my cave on Tyrannosaurus Rex. He was big, powerful and a bad-ass carnivore (much like Microsoft used to be) who had a nice run, but a meteor and some pesky start-ups called “mammals” changed all that.
Yep – Darwin would have loved the tech industry. And I’m pretty sure he would have followed it all on his iPad.