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Old Yesterday, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,719 posts, read 3,091,453 times
Reputation: 13058

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
My fault for encouraging that path. The previous poster never addressed why companies fail, only why capitalism in his thoughts fail and that is where we got off track. He did a typical "hit and run" one line post, typical to the P&C forum.
Well, he has stayed to argue his points. Um, points for that.

A business under any economic model can make bad decisions, but the nature of capitalism - especially in a relatively uncontrolled, free-swinging era such as our present one - makes it easy to let the words of the profits drive owners and stockholders to insane decisions.

I again point to WordPerfect, which could have easily kept its options open by creating and funding multiple future-OS teams, and had a killer Windows version ready when the market was (sorry, OS/2 and XWindows teams...) but chose to sit, sulk and be stubborn instead, apparently too cheap/greedy to spend any of its huge profits on such things as a future.

 
Old Yesterday, 12:23 PM
 
Location: San Jose
2,166 posts, read 651,989 times
Reputation: 2316
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
My fault for encouraging that path.
I am sure a moderator will be here soon to clean up this thread and put it back on track.

Or, as they say:
IN BEFORE THE LOCK
The problem is that this thread went over your head and instead of either learning something new or simply leaving. You are attempting to completely change the topic. A topic you never addressed in the first place.

You can't discuss the failings of businesses and industries in any realistic fashion while not addressing the economic system unto which they operate. The two go hand and hand.
 
Old Yesterday, 12:30 PM
 
5,494 posts, read 2,318,353 times
Reputation: 16531
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post

Xerox pioneered what became the modern PC with the graphical user interface, named Alto in the early 1970's. The Xerox PARC division (essentially the skunk works for Xerox) developed the system but never tried to commercialize it. In 1979 Steve Jobs bought Apple engineers access to PARC and the Alto system in exchange for shares in Apple. After two visits to the site Apple debuted the Lisa and Macintosh, which have obvious influences from the Alto computer.

I know something about this because I worked for a small company that was the Beta test site for a lot of Xerox's publishing and printing systems. We used every one of their XPS systems.

In one sense, Xerox had an amazing platform for the time, the kind where you could custom design, illustrate, and print huge documents. As in 800-page documents with diagrams galore. It was tailor made for documentation and a host of other applications, the kind where you could print, 1, 5, or 100 at a time, rather than print hundreds in order to be cost-effective in offset printing. I literally was on the phone all the time working with their support team, going through software issues, suggested recommendations, and a host of other things. We were kind of their test lab for system improvements and product development.

But here we were in the biz, and getting fixes and enhancements took eons. What's more, we'd get arguments on whether the changes they needed to make were really necessary. As in, "We don't want to offer fonts bigger than 24 points." Well, why not? If you're going to put yourself out there as a publishing system, then you need to at least conform to some basic industry standards. I remember David Kearns, their CEO, coming to our office to see first-hand what we were doing with their software and hardware, and how they could really market it. I was literally 25 at the time and saying this stuff. Nothing happened.

So I watched as companies such as Aldus began catching up, then surpassing Xerox's capabilities. Xerox tried to market a desktop publishing system named Ventura, but it was a godawful Frankenstein of a program that required heavy tagging, rather than the much simpler interfaces of Quark and, later, InDesign. A classic example of a program that was designed by software people who never once considered how it would be used and who would be using it.

This company was so heavily staking its future on Xerox systems, that I realized that there was literally no way it would survive. Or, that it would never actually grow. So I bailed. Great decision on my part.

Too bad. Because Xerox could have really done something in the market if they could have just been more nimble and actually paid attention to what the market needed. They had some pretty fantastic people out in El Segundo and other places. However, their sclerotic management structure got in the way. At best, if they are even around at this juncture, they are little better than a very niche player when they could have been so much more.

Last edited by MinivanDriver; Yesterday at 12:40 PM..
 
Old Yesterday, 12:30 PM
 
12,327 posts, read 18,437,797 times
Reputation: 19241
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
Well, he has stayed to argue his points. Um, points for that.

A business under any economic model can make bad decisions, but the nature of capitalism - especially in a relatively uncontrolled, free-swinging era such as our present one - makes it easy to let the words of the profits drive owners and stockholders to insane decisions.

I again point to WordPerfect, which could have easily kept its options open by creating and funding multiple future-OS teams, and had a killer Windows version ready when the market was (sorry, OS/2 and XWindows teams...) but chose to sit, sulk and be stubborn instead, apparently too cheap/greedy to spend any of its huge profits on such things as a future.
Give him credit for staying but he added nothing to the topic really except "rich man bad".

So to address your comments, to reiterate my post #5 - is that because of greed or lack of greed? These guys already "made it" - fat and happy getting stock options and parachute clauses if it all falls apart. All companies have a life span, just like people. This is part of the life cycle. Greed is simply a desire, once you fulfill that desire you no longer have that goal. So, I am aware of that weakness in our system - the focus on short term goals. But that's OK too as it allows the next greedy (we should say "hungry") guy to come up from behind, the next "Bill Gates" and create a better idea and topple these guys. And that's part of capitalism as well.
 
Old Yesterday, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,719 posts, read 3,091,453 times
Reputation: 13058
Quote:
Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post
The problem is that this thread went over your head and instead of either learning something new or simply leaving. You are attempting to completely change the topic. A topic you never addressed in the first place.

You can't discuss the failings of businesses and industries in any realistic fashion while not addressing the economic system unto which they operate. The two go hand and hand.
Polite warning, here. You went off down a tangent road. Don't blame other posters that they didn't follow you. Threads that stay more or less on the OP topic are far more interesting and productive than ones that devolve into the same tired hash over Capitalism or Why People Are Poor or so forth. And the crowd that just wants to drag in their soapbox and spew in their same canned opinions is always at the door.

Capitalism is an interesting sidelight to this topic. But only a sidelight. Time to drop the point unless it's pretty firmly connected to the basic idea of why companies don't adapt.
 
Old Yesterday, 12:43 PM
 
5,494 posts, read 2,318,353 times
Reputation: 16531
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
WordPerfect. Anyone who was around in the early PC era knows that Whippy came along and cornered the market, pushing WordStar and a few other players into oblivion. When graphical interfaces came along, they stalled and sulked and refused to develop for both OS/2 and Windows, eventually picked the wrong horse, and by the time they figured out Windows was the future, Word had successfully transitioned to GUI and never looked back, even though it remained inferior to WP for years.

There was a memorable full-page ad from WP's CEO, basically whining and complaining and sulking that their customer base hadn't followed them to OS/2 and almost literally saying, FINE, then, we'll do a Windows product.

They survived only because the legal profession had adapted WP, and vice versa, to their field. (Almost wholly, in the beginning, because of a very slick line-numbering feature.) I just saw a WordPerfect Office pack somewhere like Target or Sam's. But classic case of absolutely owning a market, having no reason to ever lose ground, and just piddling away the advantage.

I actually saw a WordPerfect booth at a trade show three years ago. In the course of a couple of minutes, I must have seen twenty different people walk up and say, "Wow. You guys still exist?" I kind of felt sorry for that guy.
 
Old Yesterday, 12:58 PM
 
5,494 posts, read 2,318,353 times
Reputation: 16531
Here's another one: Newspapers. I consulted for several large dailies that were part of a publishing group. I pointed out their decline in subscribers and they said, "Oh, don't show the publisher the numbers." When I talked about the coming bloodbath in classified advertising revenue, I was told, "The publisher doesn't want to hear that kind of talk."

The reason for that is pretty simple. Newspapers, especially twenty years ago, were the most rigid, sclerotic businesses known to mankind. I mean Soviet bureaucracies were innovative in comparison. They were dinosaurs for a pretty simple reason: Newspaper management worked their entire careers in newspapers, so they couldn't imagine a different way of doing things, nor could they conceive of anyone not wanting a newspaper. As a result, they functioned with all the arrogance of a public utility.

Yet, if you ignore all their noble, self-congratulatory palaver about being the Guardians of Democracy or whatever, a newspaper was nothing more than a glorified system to cram words, pictures, and ads into a rolled up wad of newsprint that would be tossed in your driveway the next morning. So when you picked it up and unfurled the thing at your breakfast table, the news you were reading was typically ten hours old at the absolute best. As a result, because they were slow to acknowledge being in the news biz as opposed to the newspaper biz, they were not only completely steamrolled by the internet, but they refused to acknowledge it coming. "The internet is a lesser medium," one executive told me in a meeting. Yes, he actually said that.

After I fired them, the newspaper group finally acceded to the need for digital news and Frankensteined together a terrible digital format, one they're still using twenty years later. Newspapers are still creaking by, chiefly because of FSIs. But even that will eventually run out of road.

Honest to God, I've never encountered an industry more infested with deeply stupid and short-sighted people in management as the newspaper biz.

Last edited by MinivanDriver; Yesterday at 01:14 PM..
 
Old Yesterday, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
5,701 posts, read 3,662,134 times
Reputation: 16646
Quote:
Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
I actually saw a WordPerfect booth at a trade show three years ago. In the course of a couple of minutes, I must have seen twenty different people walk up and say, "Wow. You guys still exist?" I kind of felt sorry for that guy.

When I first started with my present employer, 25 years ago, we used WordPerfect. Some time later, we switched over to Word, and that was that. I didn't realize that WP still existed either.
 
Old Yesterday, 01:03 PM
 
12,327 posts, read 18,437,797 times
Reputation: 19241
Another good example is AOL. EVERYONE in the 90s had dial-up service with AOL. They were everywhere, everytime one opened the mailbox an AOL CD would be in it.
What happened to them?

I can't even imagine how rich that company became by charging people an hourly rate for incredibly slow internet service. Why change?
Once again failed to adapt to a changing world. The internet was no longer the realm of newbies, college students, and professors. People were becoming more sophisticated in what they needed from an internet company. More importantly people were dropping dial-up internet service like crazy and going to high speed broadband with fixed fee plans. AOL changed to broadband too late, changed there payment plans too late, and thus became a shadow of there formerselves. Now they are I think a subdivision of Verizon.
 
Old Yesterday, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,719 posts, read 3,091,453 times
Reputation: 13058
Quote:
Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
I know something about this because I worked for a small company that was the Beta test site for a lot of Xerox's publishing and printing systems. We used every one of their XPS systems.
Commercial user and field-testing for DocuTech systems, here.

Quote:
In one sense, Xerox had an amazing platform for the time, the kind where you could custom design, illustrate, and print huge documents.
The only part of that XeroX ( ) had any lock on was the fast collated printing, with a few bindery features. They had no illustration or integration tools that I was ever aware of, but were among the earliest to have a Postscript RIP for toner printing, which opened the door to every design tool in existence.

Quote:
So I watched as companies such as Aldus began catching up, then surpassing Xerox's capabilities. Xerox tried to market a desktop publishing system named Ventura, but it was a godawful Frankenstein of a program that required heavy tagging, rather than the much simpler interfaces of Quark and, later, InDesign.
You've got this pretty mixed up. You can't just compare products from the beginning of time with present-day ones without some context.

Ventura Publisher was a powerhouse without precedent. It was also idiosyncratic, buggy, overly complex and with a learning curve like the face of Half Dome. But once stabilized and mastered, it had absolutely no equal in the complex document layout world, and didn't for a good number of years. The 'tagging' feature you deprecate was enormously useful and has never been duplicated in any other program; I miss it sometimes. Separating editing/layout and paragraph tagging for format was... quirky, but based on the very primitive newspaper layout tools then coming into use without a GUI. Recall that nearly every other app at the time was text-based; VP's GUI was an astonishing leap, especially with a high-resolution monochrome monitor. (We were still using Arts&Letters for graphics, which started as a text/picture-driven interface.)

By comparison, Pagemaker was a child's toy, simply a whiteboard on a screen. Almost no real features, no precision layout capability (all visual/guideline drag), and impossibly fragile files and output. Unlike VP in skilled hands, which could go directly to print, the standard practice with PM was to make a pretty picture on the screen and then send the entire live file to a print shop, where someone who actually had expertise would fix all the problems and turn it into a print file. PM, Illustrator and even Photoshop didn't mature into anything like real tools for several iterations.

Quark didn't come along until the field had matured enough to guide its development. InDesign came along almost fifteen years into the game, and got nearly everything right - including a few things no one had gotten right since VP.

Snarking at VP from the perspective of FatMac PM or InDesign is like snarking at the best TVs of 1965 because they didn't have widescreen displays or remotes.

As to why Xerox lost the game after DocuTech, I think you touched on the right thing: most competitors didn't require an Apple-like buy-in to an expensive closed system.
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