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There's a definite sense of late that all's not well inside a number of big technology companies.

  • Microsoft has been muddled about its direction for ten years, the nastier side effects of which have been mostly mitigated, or at least deferred, by the fact its Windows / Office cash cow is so large.
  • Nokia used to be the worlds largest mobile phone manufacturer, now it's betting its future on the Windows Phone OS hoping that Microsoft can save it from oblivion.
  • Six years ago RIM was redefining what we expected from smartphones with BlackBerry. Now it's redefining the meaning of the word implosion.
  • HP had the corporate equivalent of a nervous breakdown last summer and has just decided (again) to start manufacturing Tablet PCs. This time running Windows 8 RT. If HP had a face, you'd slap it.
  • Sony looks increasingly fragile.
  • Dell is in need of a second act; the mail order PC business isn't exactly ground breaking.
  • And today Yahoo staggered through yet another leadership crisis and is about to get it's fourth CEO in four years.

And only Apple and Google seem capable of recognising that no matter how earth shatteringly awesome your one great product idea was, it most likely isn't enough. You need to be BATSHIT CRAZY PARANOID - as Steve Jobs evidently was - that your treasured Golden Goose is either going to die or get stolen from under your feet.

Yahoo is a great example of a business that got big quickly with one simple idea back in 1994, but which has been spraying the cash proceeds from that same idea against the wall ever since Google showed and spooked them almost fifteen years ago. They're demonstrating brilliantly that you can't build a sustainable long term business if you fail to engineer the right conditions to make lightning strike twice. And, actually, maybe you can't make it strike twice.

And so I think what we're seeing now is a kind of Newtonian reckoning where the inescapable laws of physics ultimately draw back down to earth anything that lacks the propulsion required to stay aloft.

This stuff really is business school 101. You'd have thunk.

Reader Comments (2)

Agree with the one-great-product-leaves-you-exposed theme. Why is this such a universal problem, though? Surely, with all the resources they have to hand, their next five innovations must be in process? It's a universal law, as you say, that competition will overtake you however genius your current product is, and you better have plans to keep on innovating

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGina

In the technology section of the BBC News site they are reporting that game sales in the US are down a massive 43% compared to this time last year. The reason given is not the recession but the fact the games companies stopped investing in new games at the first sign of the recession. They shelved titles and closed studios over the world.

As a result we now see a massive drop in new releases and the releases that we do have on the shelf, are all very safe titles for the games companies. Nothing new, just sequels to existing titles.

I'm not a big fan of the power that companies like EA hold over the games market so hopefully this will give small independent companies the chance to shine,

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Nixon
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