10 Companies That Were Once Great But Now Kinda Suck

There was a time when many of us got our videos at Blockbuster after shopping for a Sony Discman at Sears, all while talking on our Motorola phone. All of these companies have had their glory days, but now they’re on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of 10 Companies That Have Lost Their Edge.

Here’s a summary of their list, in alphabetical order:

Blockbuster Video: “Blockbuster’s conventional retail outlets seem hopelessly outdated… It’s now chasing its industry instead of leading it.”

Dell: “When the Internet arrived, Dell took off and competitors got whiplash trying to keep up with its skyrocketing sales. But a decade later, Dell faltered as mobile devices began to displace PCs… Dell has countered with mini-laptops, smartphones, and other trendy products, but it’s now following the pack.”

Eastman Kodak: “For nearly a century, no company commercialized the camera as successfully as Kodak… But Kodak’s storied run began to end with the advent of digital photography… Its stock price is now about 96 percent below the peak it hit in 1997.”

Microsoft: “It helped give the PC mass-market appeal, and still dominates much of the software industry. But Microsoft has also fumbled or passed up many great ideas that others capitalized on, like Web TV, E-books, smartphones, and the tablet PC… And sure enough, the market is shifting away from the PCs that Microsoft’s software is designed for.”

Motorola: “Motorola dominated [the mobile phone] business as recently as 2003, when it introduced the trendy Razr, the biggest-selling mobile phone ever at the time. But Motorola failed to focus on smartphones that can handle E-mail and other data, and rapidly lost share to newcomers like Research in Motion, Apple, LG, and Samsung.”

Sears: “In earlier days, Sears put catalogs on the map… and introduced sturdy, affordable brands like Craftsman and Kenmore. But later in life, Sears stood flat-footed as competitors like Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon chewed up its turf.”

Sony: “Not long ago, the Walkman was as ubiquitous as the iPod is today, and Sony dominated the market for TVs, cameras, video recorders, and many other consumer electronics. But as Sony became a huge conglomerate with film and music divisions, it lost leadership in many of its core product lines… As a result, faster-moving competitors like LG, Samsung, Vizio, Apple… have outpaced this old-school innovator.”

Sun Microsystems: “Its Java programming language, introduced in the mid 90s, became an industry standard just as the Internet arrived, helping make Sun an industry giant by the late 1990s. But the dot-com bust wiped out many of its customers and changed the way companies meet their technology needs.”

Toys R Us: “As it went national, Toys “R” Us drove many competitors out of business and gobbled up others. Then the tables turned, with the once-mighty toy giant suddenly bested by discounters like Wal-Mart and Target, online sites like Amazon, and smaller merchants with better quality and service.”

Yahoo: “Yahoo’s snub of a $45 billion buyout offer from Microsoft in 2008 now looks like a huge gaffe, since Yahoo’s market value has fallen to a scant $19 billion or so.”

What do you think of this list? Do you disagree with its assessment of any of these companies? Which others belong on the list?

10 Great Companies That Lost Their Edge [U.S. News & World Report]

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