BlackBerry, Napster, MySpace—these brands once used to rule their subcategory in the techworld. A decade ago, BBM was everyone’s Viber or Telegram, Napster was where cool-new music was shared, and Tom of MySpace was pretty much the king of social media (hey, he was friends with everyone!). Today, however, only few once cutting-edge names in tech remain; some fondly remembered, the rest forgotten.
Here, the #10YearChallenge of brands we used to love and recognize.
Operating since: 1984 to present
Before iPhone and Android ruled the world, there was BlackBerry, the first iteration of a smartphone. With a BB, you could go online, send and receive emails, and chat with fellow BB users over BBM. They were so freakin’ popular that in 2011, the brand sold over 50 million units. But their inability to keep up with the times—like choosing to keep the keyboard instead of going touchscreen—ultimately caused its downfall. BlackBerry still exists today but only as a shadow of its once glorious self.
BlackBerry Curve 9360 in 2011
BlackBerry SS7 in 2017
Operating since: 1928 to present (currently under Lenovo)
There was a time when mobile phones were limited to just connecting people to other people. No one knew it could play music or summon a song on command. Enter: Motorola’s ROKR E1, the first phone featuring a version of Apple’s iTunes music software. Though both users and critics criticized the device for its sluggish performance and limited storage, it can’t be denied that it paved the way for its better counterparts today.
Operating since: 1992 until 2011
Who didn’t want a Palm device (read: Palm Pilot) when it was hip and happening? Best known for its line of personal digital assistants, Palm ruled the late 90s and was celebrated for coming up with the first versions of webOS, a multitasking OS for smartphones. Sadly, poor sales in 2011 led to its expiry.
Operating since: 1982 until 2013
Mac computers may dominate homes and offices today but back in the early aughts, Compaq was the personal computer-provider of all. Once the largest supplier of computers in the 90s, the company later struggled to compete with the price points of HP and Dell. Compaq was acquired by HP in 2002 for a whopping $25 billion before being discontinued in 2013
Operating since: 1999 to 2001
Napster was once a groundbreaking service, pioneering file sharing, especially songs, online. But because of copyright infringement issues, Napster was forced to stop operations and declare bankruptcy. Unknown to many, the brand recovered and was later purchased by Best Buy. 2016 marked a new beginning for them and they continue to operate today, citing Spotify and other similar music streaming services as competitors.
Operating since: 1888 to present
Dominating the photographic industry in the 20th century, who would have thought the tech powerhouse would fail? Kodak, best known for film and cameras, was unfortunately among the brands that couldn’t adapt to digital. Though efforts and innovations were made, the company faced bankruptcy in 2012. It later sold a large portion of its patents to Apple, Google and Facebook for a little over half a billion dollars.
But that wasn’t the end of Kodak; it has since emerged from financial ruin and seems to be doing okay. At present, the company does business related to packaging, printing, graphics and other professional services.
Kodak C182 in 2009
Smile Classic Instant Print digital camera in 2019
Operating since: 2003 to present
YouTube who? Facebook what? MySpace was the original platform where web stars were born and several (mostly) music and film careers were launched. But soon after NewsCorp purchased the platform in 2005 and the rise of Facebook in 2009, MySpace took a nosedive.
MySpace is still around these days, but as to who you’ll find there—old contacts maybe?—you’ll have to reactivate your account or create one to find out.
Operating since: 1994 to present
Before Google became a verb and a resource for pretty much everything, there was Yahoo! It was yesteryear’s go-to search engine, mail service provider and for a time, messaging software (of course you had Y!m). At the top of its game, the search and media website hybrid was getting over 7 billion views per month, making it the sixth most visited website globally in 2016. Today, though its prominence has dimmed, Yahoo! remains to be a fairly popular name in the webiverse, even acquiring the once-famous blogging platform Tumblr in 2013.
The tech industry may be riddled with failed attempts at innovation, but we have these brands to thank for the super-powered gadgets and services we enjoy today. The takeaway for us all? Adaptability, innovation and timing are everything, especially in the business of technology. Go big or go home, because there’s really no in-between; not if you want to stay at the top of the game or at least top of mind.
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