In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters

Chapman, Merrill R.
Apress 2003
ISBN 1-59059-104-6
Date finished: 2006-03-10

Chapman worked at Micropro, Ashton-Tate and IBM, among other companies, during the 1980s and 1990s, and therefore had a front-line view of several of the bad decisions he describes. I had vaguely heard of some of these product disasters, but Chapman provides a lot of context and supporting detail. Some notable ones:

  • The PC's architecture getting away from IBM's control, and the subsequent failure of the more closed PS/2 architecture.
  • IBM also failed to market OS/2 effectively, first delaying shipment of a GUI for too long and then not supporting ISVs until it was too late.
  • Micropro trying to market two products, Wordstar and Wordstar 2000, that weren't clearly distinguishable by customers, or even their own marketing department.
  • Several companies were damaged by the transition to Windows 3.0. Either they focused on OS/2 ports which became useless when OS/2 failed, their Windows ports arrived too late, or they were too buggy. Microsoft's applications were stable and pretty good, leaving them in possession of the application field and laying the foundation for Office's monopoly.

The later chapters, on the rise and fall of Netscape and the popping of the Internet and ASP bubbles, are less interesting because the events described are more recent and hence still familiar, and Chapman doesn't have anything new to say about either of them.

Tagged: business, computing


%T In Search of Stupidity
%S Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters
%@ 2006-03-10
%P 252pp
%D 2003
%A  Chapman, Merrill R.
%G ISBN 1-59059-104-6
%K computing, business
%I Apress

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