Name a few of the failures from the high profile technology companies of the 21st century. Various Windows versions since XP show up on a few lists of high tech failures. Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Phone. Failures, right? But by what measure? Sales? Uh uh. All were hugely profitable (with the exception of Windows Phone) but highly criticized and often avoided (at least, until the last possible moment) by the buying public and the enterprise IT departments.
So, are the various Windows versions since XP failures? Probably not because each one made more money for Microsoft than the last. Few would view Microsoft Office’s various versions as failures until one examines the mobile market where the Windows maker has negligible presence.
Now, let’s compare that historical view to Apple’s string of product successes in the 21st century. From Apple Stores to iPod and iTunes, from Intel Macs to iPhone, from iPad to various app stores Apple has an enviable string of successes that have catapulted the company to incredible wealth and riches.
Failures? Ah, there are a few. MobileMe comes to mind, completely replaced by iCloud. Antennagate and Bendgate were hiccups or speed bumps, but certainly not sufficient to call failures by any measure. Sapphiregate and the embarrassment with GT Technologies might qualify. If anything, Apple’s biggest failure in the 21st century is what has kept Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and others in the game.
Other than the iPod, Apple’s marketshare for every product line, despite the recent uptick in Mac sales, remains anemic when compared to Android devices, Samsung smartphone and tablet sales, or Windows. While Google doesn’t make much money from Android, Microsoft has grown fat and rich on Windows and Office (despite losing tens of billions to diversify the company) massive marketshare does not seem to be a panacea for poor decisions at the corporate level. Samsung’s unit sales marketshare dwarfs Apple’s iPhone and iPad, but Apple makes double the profits on fewer sales.
Android tops iOS in total marketshare, but few companies that produce Android devices make in a year what Apple makes in a week.
Successes and failures come in many forms, some of which change over time. Apple uses a different measurement for success than Google, than Microsoft, than Samsung. If marketshare is the measure, Apple fails regularly. If profit share is a measure, the Apple succeeds, as do other companies. If stock price and dividends are a measure, Apple has succeeded far beyond the most successful companies of the modern era.