5 Businesses From Google And Other Giants That Promised A Lot And Failed
Blockbuster and a precursor to social media are also among promising ideas that didn’t last long. Google co-founder Sergey Brin with his Google Glass GETTY IMAGES via BBC In the business world, as in so many others, everything starts with an idea. This idea receives investments in time and money, until it is ready to be launched and observed to see if it is successful or not. Some of these ideas make a lot of progress, like Facebook and Amazon. But many others fail, for a variety of reasons. Technology enthusiasts often cite the case of Sony’s Betamax video system. It received huge praise for its superior quality to that of the VHS system, but lost out to its competitor due to a lack of skill in its marketing campaign. Likewise, other successful companies have also been responsible for some of the biggest failures in history. Why? 1. Google Glass Named by Times magazine as one of the best inventions of 2012, Google Glass was a project that had the passionate support of Sergey Brin, one of the founders of the search engine. Which wasn’t surprising. Google Glass looked like something out of a sci-fi movie—high-tech glasses with a front-facing display that showed information moving across the wearer’s line of sight, all activated by gestures or voice commands. REMEMBER: g1 used Google glasses; see how Google Glass worked With them, you could find your way guided by a map superimposed on your reality; your messages would appear before your eyes; a single gesture would be enough for you to take photos or record videos; and a voice command would make you communicate with whoever you wanted. The product was created in the midst of the permanent clamor for portable computing. But while Google Glass’s utility and image were appealing, privacy concerns worked against it, as it offered its wearer the ability to film and photograph others without being observed. The idea that someone could be recorded unknowingly turned out to be too uncomfortable for people. And, for commercial establishments, such as restaurants and movie theaters, the possibility that their customers would wear glasses with cameras was not well received either. Three years after launch, Google Glass was scrapped. The project was revived in 2017, with Glass at Work, aimed not at the general public, but at companies. They were useful, for example, to provide real-time notifications in the medical environment or to read QR codes. But attempts to revive the idea were not enough to keep it going much longer. In March 2023, Google put an end to its futuristic glasses. 2. Olestra Discovered by scientists at the US company Procter & Gamble in the 1960s, Olestra was a fat substitute that was not absorbed by the body. Olestra has been tested in cakes, donuts and ice cream, reducing its calorie content by up to 50%. It promised to be the panacea for people’s diet, who could enjoy food without suffering the negative consequences. And it was a great solution for the multinational, which would earn a lot of money from selling the product. But the comments about the Olestra tests were disastrous and disgusting. “Everyone had the same complaint,” explains food scientist Peter Berry Ottaway, “anal leaks coming out of the rectum without any control.” Procter & Gamble reformulated the product, focusing on snack food production. And in 1990, it sought approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Approval came six years later, but products using Olestra would need to declare that it can cause abdominal cramps and loose stools. Initially, consumers were not discouraged. At the same time, better medical results about the side effects of the product began to appear. But a fierce and ongoing campaign emerged against the use of Olestra by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). And, as if that weren’t enough, the product became the butt of jokes from comedians on American television. All this led to the end of Olestra. “Really, it was a public relations war,” according to millionaire entrepreneur Sam White. He declared that if he had been Procter & Gamble, he “would have kept fighting”. 3. Blockbuster 20 years ago, Blockbuster was part of the urban landscape around the world Ron Heflin/AP Launched in 1985 in Dallas, Texas, the Blockbuster video club (“blockbuster” in English) lived up to its its name for nearly 30 years. At its peak, in 2004, the giant movie rental company had 9,000 stores worldwide, 84,000 employees and revenues of nearly US$5.9 billion (about R$29.5 billion). But at that time, the company had already made a serious mistake: in the year 2000, it missed the opportunity to buy Netflix. The North American streaming platform had been founded in 1997, offering a DVD rental service by mail. Netflix offered Blockbuster the ability to add an online platform to its tape and DVD rental operation. In return, Blockbuster would dedicate space to Netflix in its stores. Blockbuster turned down this and other opportunities, according to Netflix, which ended up becoming its main threat. It was the decisive moment for his downfall. “It’s very easy for people to become intoxicated with success and start to believe that nothing is going to stand in their way, which they don’t, in my experience,” notes White. Blockbuster had been interested in offering its own streaming services. That focus changed after 2005, when communications giant Viacom sold the company, leaving it saddled with debt. And a later buyout by “activist investors” stymied the company’s innovation. In 2010, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy. SEE ALSO: After 10 years of bankruptcy, Blockbuster resurfaces on social networks in action with Airbnb 4. Friends Reunited Launched by computer engineer Julie Pankhurst and her husband Steve in July 2000, the website Friends Reunited (“Friends reunited”, in English ) helped people find their old school friends. Precursor of social networks, the site had an extremely modest initial growth. But after it was mentioned on a BBC radio show, Friends Reunited gained traction. By the end of 2002, it had already attracted 8 million users. The transition from free access to paid subscription was inevitable, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm, nor the bad publicity, fueled by stories of old school friends having affairs and slandered professors. Friends Reunited managed to hold on until it was sold to British TV channel ITV in 2005 for £175 million. But the takeover was a failure, and in 2009 ITV sold the site for just £25m. The TV channel overpaid for a centerpiece of its digital strategy, but it was “a business that culturally wasn’t in the right place,” according to White. And, even with its drastic fate, the businessman believes that Friends Reunited “could have faced the Facebooks of life”. 5. Sinclair C5 The C5 electric tricycle (with pedal assistance) was a one-person vehicle released to great fanfare on January 10, 1985. It was heralded as the future of transportation—a clean machine capable of taking its driver wherever he needed to go. , replacing oversized and inefficient cars. Conceived by the famous British inventor Clive Sinclair (1940-2021), the Sinclair C5 promised to be another one of his successful creations, alongside the first electronic pocket calculator and his popular home microcomputer ZX Spectrum. But, along with the DeLorean (the car made famous in the Back to the Future movies), the C5 turned out to be one of the most spectacular transport failures of the 1980s. . The vehicle had gone from drawing board straight to prototype, without any market research, and had an image problem almost instantly. The press and public saw the Sinclair C5 not as a new mode of transportation, but as an expensive toy. And it received criticism for safety concerns, as it was extremely low, which made it virtually invisible to other vehicles. In addition, the apparent advantage of being able to be driven by anyone over the age of 14, without a license or helmet, turned out to be a cause for concern. With the poor public reception, the amount of orders was minimal and production ended after about eight months. But even though it has been ridiculed on almost every side, the C5 still has its admirers. With advances in battery technology and electronic safety and stability control systems, as well as the search for alternatives to gasoline-powered automobiles, experts wonder whether the Sinclair C5 might have been launched 30 years too soon.