Whether it’s on a movie, TV, or we’re passing by after it happened, it’s difficult to look away from a train wreck. So it is with the trail of train wrecks which litter the recent history of once proud technology companies. What causes train wrecks in tech?
Recent Historical Wrecks
As a technology company, Apple itself has caused or created more than a few technology train wrecks.
There are many examples, but let me start with the portable media player industry, back around the turn of the century.
There were many players, many manufacturers, many options, but it was Apple’s iPod that caught the music listener’s imagination. iPod became the de facto standard, and competitors disappeared into oblivion.
Fast forward a few years to the so-called smartphones pre-iPhone. As it turned out, they were not so smart; addictive, yes, but complex and not enjoyable to use. The iPhone changed that.
What were the mobile industry train wrecks after Apple’s entry into smartphones? Microsoft, Nokia, BlackBerry, Motorola, Palm, and many others. All those companies were once reigning powerhouses in the smartphone business, and none have recovered.
The tablet industry fared much the same way as a slow motion train wreck. PC tablets were heavy, cumbersome devices that just never caught on with the masses of PC buyers. The iPad wrecked the PC side of the tablet industry, forced a new tablet paradigm, and, as usual, Apple walked away with the lion’s share of the industry’s profits while other manufacturers struggle for relevancy.
Apple itself has had more than a few major problems through recent years, but none after the second coming of Steve Jobs could be caused train wrecks, or caused the company much harm. Mac Cube, the options scandal, Antennagate on the iPhone 4, Mapsgate with iOS, and recently Bendghazi for iPhone 6– were more like speed bumps than a complete derailing.
Somehow co-founder Steve Jobs instilled in Apple a simple mantra– change or be changed. In recent years it is Apple which has changed industry after industry, while competitors slowly self-destruct– much like a slow motion train wreck.