Research in Motion. Kodak. Lightsquared. They are in the Death Pool…and they may be fulfilling a prophecy.
All three of these companies…and their associated technologies…are hanging by a thread. RIM announced a huge loss and many analysts are saying they won’t make it out of this year without collapsing. Kodak, after 123 years in business, filed for bankruptcy protection and is exiting the digital camera and film markets and focusing on digital imaging. Lightsquared, called out by reader Alff, is in bankruptcy. While bankruptcy doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a company, it’s not a good sign.
So what of the technology each of these companies represents?
RIM introduced the world to a new way of doing business. The Blackberry, when introduced, could seamlessly integrate your phone and your work email/calendar system. Blackberry Messenger brought joy to those you used it. No clunky texting. And then they stopped innovating. Today, Android and iOS devices do the exact same thing. With Google Talk and iMessage, you don’t have to burn through those precious txt messages when talking to friends with the same devices. So, when RIM goes, the technology they pioneered will continue to live on. It’s more like the original tree that started a forest dying, but the forest doesn’t even notice.
We’ve discussed the dwindling future of film before. I’m calling film basically dead. In fact, you could argue that it was the death of film that brought down Kodak. Now it’s a zombie company trying to find brains.
Lightsquared was promising to bring 4G LTE to the masses. The were going to set up a network of towers and use satellites to bring highspeed wireless internet to the US. There was a hitch: they were going to use a block of spectrum right near the GPS signal spectrum. Concerns over the high-powered signals from Lightsquared bleeding over and drowning out the lower-powered signals for GPS (which is a national defense asset) moved the FCC to block Lightsquared. With no spectrum to bring their ideas to fruition, Lightsquared is all but done. However, 4G LTE will survive. The delivery method will remain the status quo. In fact, most people will live their entire lives having never known what Lightsquared was or what it would have done.
At this mid-year point, do you have any other technologies that you think are on the brink and could meet their demise this year?