Fall 2011 brought us a couple of very interesting cases of commercial suicide attempts in IT. Plain suicide attempts, some quickly, some painfully slow. My wife, who is an M.D. actually would point out in some cases how painfully some companies have made their own demise. There were more cases, like HP with their TouchPad and WebOS, which in hindsight actually became the second best selling tablet after the product was cancelled.
But my top three are simple, and a lot of IT blogs have been writing about them… but I have my own opinion about these cases and have no issue sharing those here.
The first two cases are simply caused by the mother of all causes of demise… greed. And let’s start fresh with Groupon. Earlier today, Groupon became public and start selling their shares for $20 a piece while bringing about 630 million shares to the market. Ka-ching! Or so you would think. But bad press and an unstable business concept actually caused quite some distrust with investors… and not for a single moment did their share elevated above their initial price. At the end of the day, Groupon closed 15.5% lower than its start.
Weird? No. I mean, we have been here before. There is no real product with Groupon. Groupon does not create the deals, the stores create the deals. Groupon does not do anything except distributing coupons from their clients on their social network. And let’s be honest, there is no product here. It is a service. It is a marketing service that does not deliver the value of what a client has to invest. The rates are high, there is no custom design, nothing. Not even a high-level marketing firm in Manhattan dares to ask such shares of the final product from their clients to get real publication and media attention. Honestly… relatively seen a Superbowl commercial is cheaper… you can do the math on that.
Groupon is not dead… sure… but it is not a very good move to go to the market while being swamped under bad publicity. The greed factor… is that in play here? I mean, they needed the money because there simply was no profitable business here, not even for Groupon itself. Well, if you put the market value of your company in at $12 billion, while your revenue lays around 1/10 of that… in my eyes that is a bit greedy. Sure. The concept is good, but it is way overpriced. It is definitely a service businesses are waiting for… but at what price?
Do I need to say anything more? I mean, I still like Netflix. At least as long as they keep their Starz content, which is not for very long anymore. But I like the ease of it, that I can watch without the downloading that Amazon requires, and it is everywhere. Sure, most good movies are not streamable, but this is an up and coming market… it might take a bit. But the quality is good, and it is relatively cheap.
But splitting the company up, then mending it again, then losing its major content deal and leaving their customers in the dark… come on, there is some 101-lesson to be learned here. Treat your customers with respect. Simple. Especially when they made you big, never forget it is easy for them to tear you down.
I still do not like this one. I mean, the course Flash went. I like Flash. Hell, I love it! It is a powerful, relatively easy to use perfect rich media platform that is also cross-platform. I have worked with it since version 2, but I am now at the moment I start advising my clients to pass on it… and I hate to do it. Flash is excellent.
What? Did you say Flash Player security flaws? Sure. They are there. But let’s get very realistic here, we are now all going to replace Flash by HTML 5? A complete uncontrolled environment? I mean, there is no security check on HTML5 at all? It is a wide open door, as insecure as the person who builds it. Believe me, it is a LOT easier to do things wrong with HTML5 and compromise any level of security than with Flash.
And I have never denied that I dislike Apple a lot for their role in this. With their constant denying Flash playing on their mobile devices. Not because it drained batteries, because of this constant battle between Apple and Adobe.
Adobe mentions Flash is by far not dead. True, I believe that. 90%+ of all websites still run Flash. But that is today’s impression, but with sites moving more and more cross-platform, that will diminish because people will simply stop developing different versions for different platforms.
And Adobe only mentioned the cancellation of developing Flash players for mobile devices. But even with that part alone, I think Adobe pissed off a number of loyal developers, and single-handedly put creative web development back into the hands of the ones you don’t want to touch it: developers.
As you notice, some suicide attempts have a more personal impact than the others. I actually use all three productions, and personally to my satisfaction. But, there is a time for coming and going, and all these three companies have paved ways of presenting a new platform in their own area. That will be filled up again. Groupon most likely by the more stable Living Social, NetFlix with Amazon (although I do have the idea Netflix might recover if they play their cards right) and Flash… I do hope Adobe reconsiders. But there will come a new HTML-less multimedia platform. Not Canvas, since it is too developer oriented… no, something really new. I don’t know what… but it will come.
But, the winner of the best suicide attempt has to go to Netflix. Because it has been a track record of amazingly bad decisions… it have delivered nice reading material all through the summer. Ah…I vote for adding ‘Netflixing’ as a new verb into the English language… Who is with me?