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Old Yesterday, 01:22 PM
 
Location: San Jose
2,166 posts, read 651,989 times
Reputation: 2316

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
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.
The nature of our economic system and its inherent flaws is firmly connected to why companies don't adapt and often fail. Take leadership and management as an example. All five the companies listed in the OP were publicly traded companies. Sears, Montgomery Wards, and JC Penny, Blockbuster and Kodak. The control of the companies lies in the hands of the board of directors who are put in place via elections by the shareholders. The vote per share system means a small number of individuals or entities can have almost total control over a publicly traded company.

In Blockbusters case the majority shareholder in the mid 2000's was a billionaire corporate raider named Carl Icahns. It was Carl Icahns decision making and stubbornness that helped doom Blockbuster.

As quoted here:

Quote:
Icahn told Time magazine that Blockbuster's chain of stores was its greatest asset in the battle with Netflix. Company executives continued to defend their business model and even shelved an online rental service they had developed, even though it was the company's best bet to compete with Netflix. They were frustrated that it lost money, and decided instead to focus on brick-and-mortar stores.
It wasn't like those working at Blockbuster didn't see the changes coming, but what can you do about it when the company they work for is run like a dictatorship. With Icahn being a majority shareholder, he controlled the board of directors, so his stupidity would help put 84,000 people out of work. The question becomes how do we allow a system to exist where one person has control over the economic future of 84,000 people?

Maybe if those working for Blockbuster had an actual say in the way the business was run they would still be around? In Germany and in many other parts of Europe, any company over 2,000 employees must by German law give half the seats in the board of directors to representatives elected by the workers. Thus the decision making is democratized . Thus avoiding a Blockbuster type scenario. You cannot divorce this topic from our system. The two go hand in hand.

 
Old Yesterday, 01:29 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,719 posts, read 3,091,453 times
Reputation: 13058
Quote:
Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post
The nature of our economic system and its inherent flaws is firmly connected to why companies don't adapt and often fail.
Connected. Not necessarily inherent. A government-owned store in Sweden could invest heavily in a product inventory that is obsolete or has nowhere near the market they believed, and the results would be the same.

Look, we agree on a lot of this. But the factors that make companies complacent and future-blind are multiple, and the influences of "capitalism" are only part of that problem. IMVHO, it's better to note that and move on to the other, more specific factors, and not let an interesting thread turn into another owner-v-labor rantfest. There are already plenty of those to make speeches in. (Not that anyone's listening, any more.)
 
Old Yesterday, 01:40 PM
 
5,494 posts, read 2,318,353 times
Reputation: 16531
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
Commercial user and field-testing for DocuTech systems, here.


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.


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.
Docutech wasn't rolled out until 1990. I worked on their forerunner XPS and 6085 systems five years earlier, long before Docutech came on the scene. And I developed the programming in XICS that allowed automatic tagging of things such as price lists for catalogs, not to mention textbook-length applications, thanks. Did you ever work on a parts catalog in Xerox software using automated tagging of databased items to pop into a layout? You've got our company to thank for that. Had Xerox simply sold that feature, they would have made untold millions.

What's more, Xerox XPS did indeed have illustration tools. You must be confused on this point. They had a pretty good one for the time, in fact. I can't remember the name of it now because, hell, that was 35 years ago and lost in the mists of time. But I conducted workshops on it to Xerox field reps in El Segundo, as well as their support team as they tried to determine best practices. It was years before another program was nearly as good at Bezier curves. We developed the content and best practices so that Xerox could make a run at the financial and insurance industries. So I know of what I speak. Mind you, I don't know what happened after 1990, because I was making hay in other fields by that time. But I know what the software and hardware were like when I left.

As for the rest of your post, you chose to ignore my point relative to the focus of this thread. Xerox had an opportunity to make a very large dent in the publishing industry through what was a very powerful system, yet reluctantly made upgrades, doing so at a glacial pace. Eventually, they would get their clocks cleaned. Further, from font sizes to screens to everything else on the sun, they simply ignored prevailing publication standards of the time, making it harder to overcome objections. They squandered what sizable technical and market advantage they had. That's when I realized that there was no way that Xerox's deeply hidebound management would ever be able to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

But, to your point, Ventura was a steaming piece of excrement even when Xerox picked up its distribution and bought the source code in 1990. The programming team at Xerox begged the company to not pick it up, instead asking to develop something better. As a matter of fact, Xerox's adoption of Ventura convinced me that it was time to move on. Pagemaker was indeed primitive at the time in comparison. But design and software was also improving at a far faster pace. If Ventura were that good of a program, it would have survived longer than 1993. It's short life speaks volumes about how terrible it actually was.

Last edited by MinivanDriver; Yesterday at 01:56 PM..
 
Old Yesterday, 02:02 PM
 
5,494 posts, read 2,318,353 times
Reputation: 16531
Quote:
Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post

Maybe if those working for Blockbuster had an actual say in the way the business was run they would still be around? In Germany and in many other parts of Europe, any company over 2,000 employees must by German law give half the seats in the board of directors to representatives elected by the workers. Thus the decision making is democratized . Thus avoiding a Blockbuster type scenario. You cannot divorce this topic from our system. The two go hand in hand.

You cannot be serious. I rented many a video from Blockbuster in its heyday. Even the average manager there was dumb as a box of hair. Do you think for a skinny minute that the brain trust that was Blockbuster's rank and file would have ever anticipated RedBox, Netflix, or Amazon Prime? Or, even more improbably, devised a strategy that would have ever blunted the challenge posed by those companies? That's some awfully potent crack you're smoking there.

Blockbuster came and went, riding the wave that was based on people driving to a location, roaming the aisles and plucking some random title off the shelf. It was a business that soaked up huge amounts of real estate and personnel as the only possible way to serve their customers at the time. There was simply no other way to do it. However, at the same time, the minute high speed internet came along, Blockbuster was doomed, because there was no way the chain would be able to unload 9,000 stores. It was a business model that had a brief, shining moment in time and that had no conceivable route to remain solvent once new technologies came along.

Last edited by MinivanDriver; Yesterday at 02:22 PM..
 
Old Yesterday, 02:11 PM
 
6,252 posts, read 6,391,917 times
Reputation: 2866
Quote:
Originally Posted by victimofGM View Post
Kodak could have adapted to digital cameras earlier. Blockbuster didnít adapt fast enough to home delivery nor streaming. Sears, Montgomery Wards, and JC Pennyís (three companies that were once mail order catalog companies) didnít adapt to online catalog sales fast enough nor well enough. Any other companies that failed to adapt? Would love to see a story on what happened behind closed doors that prevented the early adapting of new technology or business model.
Funny thing is Sears used to be mail catalog only, and that was the internet of decades ago.
 
Old Yesterday, 02:21 PM
 
5,494 posts, read 2,318,353 times
Reputation: 16531
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Brazen_3133 View Post
Funny thing is Sears used to be mail catalog only, and that was the internet of decades ago.

Yep. Sears forgot their roots, namely what a godsend they were to rural families.



Over time, Sears got comfortable as a retailer, completely ignoring the rise of Wal-Mart. People forget that Wal-Mart made its bones in tertiary and even smaller markets where Sears would not deign to go. So as they grew, I'm pretty sure Sears' executive team likely said, "Pshaw. Let them have the hicks. We've got the cities."
 
Old Yesterday, 02:30 PM
 
6,252 posts, read 6,391,917 times
Reputation: 2866
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
Just the opposite - capitalism gave us Apple, Netflix, Amazon. Capitalism causes innovation and adaptation, it doesn't kill it. There is a reason these companies started in the U.S.

Why companies don't adapt is more complex than that. It's usually leadership - human nature. Complacency. It's human nature to stay with what one is comfortable with. Until another competitor comes up with a better idea, and then it's usually too late - that's capitalism at work as well.
I don't want to get all Gordon Gecko here but '"greed", for lack of a better word, is good'. In terms of adapting, that's part of the problem with these established companies - these companies aren't motivated by greed anymore. Why should they? These leaders are fat and happy. You need someone more greedy to introduce the competition.
Amazon is practically a monopoly. Some may say that is actually a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post
Does it? Most of the important and groundbreaking works of innovation over the last 50 years were done via government funding in one form or another.

Apple wouldn't exist if computers had not been invented. And who were primarily inventors of the computer and the software that went with it? Various government and educational entities.

Both Netflix and Amazon only exist because the internet exists, who were the inventors and pioneers of the internet? The military, universities, various scientific organizations , etc none of which are capitalist entities. If capitalism spawns so much innovation why was government funding the core reason for a majority of the major inventions of the last 50 odd years? How come a capitalist entity didn't invent the internet?

Really how much innovation does capitalism actually provide? If you really break it down its roll in technological innovation is actually quite limited.
Internet is really just more interactive telephone/telegraph and cable TV network. Afterall the early internet did go over telephone LAN lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
No. Government didn't fund Amazon, Google, or Netflix. Your reasoning is somewhat akin to saying that UPS and Fedex prospered because the government built roads and airports for UPS and fedex trucks to operate on. Government creates the infrastructure for industry to thrive, as is their function.

Let the late Steve Jobs know that "oh you didn't do anything, the government did it for you". Maybe you can proclaim that in Apple headquarters. You would get laughed out of the building. And I submit to you once again - why hasn't a google, a netflix, or an amazon developed in any other country than the US? They all have functioning internet, government funding even more intensive than the US, and other infrastructure. You never addressed that. Nor does it address the original topic.
It seems capitalism eventually just leads to monopolies or market with very few actors.
 
Old Yesterday, 02:50 PM
 
1,857 posts, read 746,888 times
Reputation: 3042
Quote:
Originally Posted by irongrl View Post
Blackberry didn't adapt in time. They did not see the smart phone revolution ahead of them and by the time they realized that they needed to change it was too late.
I was just about to say the same thing. They were pretty cocky that the iPhone would never work. Hindsight is a huge b****.

What's worse is that they tried to come back into the consumer smartphone market with their BlackBerry 10 OS. When I heard the news, I knew it would be a TERRIBLE decision. BlackBerry has a reputation for being a business phone. No way would consumers buy it. And they didn't. That CEO got fired and the new CEO has been taking the company in a much better direction by focusing on security and catering to businesses.
 
Old Yesterday, 02:54 PM
 
6,252 posts, read 6,391,917 times
Reputation: 2866
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceangaia View Post
A lot of people can't distinguish between 'innovation' and 'invention', either. Online retailing may have been 'invented' in 1979 so who were the dominant online retailers in the 80's? Amazon took a 15 year old concept that went nowhere and made it the dominant retail sales model.

Innovation. The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.
What is innovation? definition and meaning - BusinessDictionary.com
Quote:
Originally Posted by KenFresno View Post
Exactly. Starbucks didn't succeed because they made better coffee then everyone else or were innovative in any sort of way. Starbucks succeeded by over saturating the market with stores and thus destroying small family run business who at that point controlled most of the coffee market. Its why there are Starbucks on every corner. Many of them run at a financial loss, but that is not the point. They exist to insure there is no room in the market for competition. Starbucks goal is to establish and control a monopoly in their industry, ditto for Google and Amazon.
Both because Wall Street just pumped as much money as needed into them so they can expand like crazy, buy up as much inventory as needed, and not have to worry about debt, and just push everyone else out. Same thing with Home Depot.
 
Old Yesterday, 02:59 PM
 
Location: San Jose
2,166 posts, read 651,989 times
Reputation: 2316
Quote:
Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
You cannot be serious. I rented many a video from Blockbuster in its heyday. Even the average manager there was dumb as a box of hair. Do you think for a skinny minute that the brain trust that was Blockbuster's rank and file would have ever anticipated RedBox, Netflix, or Amazon Prime? Or, even more improbably, devised a strategy that would have ever blunted the challenge posed by those companies? That's some awfully potent crack you're smoking there.
Blockbuster employees wouldn't need to smart enough to participate in a Redbox or Netflix, all they would need to do is vote someone onto the board who understood what direction to take the company. A democratic system does not require all participants to be intelligent in order for it to work. Need an example, would America be a better place if it was a dictator or a democracy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MinivanDriver View Post
Blockbuster came and went, riding the wave that was based on people driving to a location, roaming the aisles and plucking some random title off the shelf. It was a business that soaked up huge amounts of real estate and personnel as the only possible way to serve their customers at the time. There was simply no other way to do it. However, at the same time, the minute high speed internet came along, Blockbuster was doomed, because there was no way the chain would be able to unload 9,000 stores. It was a business model that had a brief, shining moment in time and that had no conceivable route to remain solvent once new technologies came along.
Blockbuster was developing an online movie streaming service back in late 1990's in a partnership with Enron (yup that Enron). The deal ended up collapsing and we all know what ended up happening to Enron.

Here is senior vice president of strategic planning at Blockbuster back in July of 2000 discussing the future of the industry.

Quote:
Both companies expect to generate significant revenue. The in-home entertainment industry is huge, predicted by analysts to reach $20 billion this year. "We think this service will help expand the pie. Consumption of entertainment has gone up every year," says Steve Pantelick, senior vice president of strategic planning at Blockbuster.

What's more, the deal solves some of the problems of Blockbuster's brick-and-mortar stores. For example, with an Internet-based movie-on-demand service, the store will never lose a sale because of rented or out of stock movies.
As for their brick and mortar stores, they were planning on turning some of them into adult entertainment centers sort like what Dave and Busters has done. Also you are not taking into account how much value comes out of owning real estate. The land those brick and mortar stores sat on could have become a big money maker for Blockbuster had they figured out how to use the space properly.

The people running the business end of Blockbuster knew where the industry was going, their collapse was a system failure brought on by poor leadership.
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