Internet stories

Did you have trouble while trying to update your iDevice to iOS 5 yesterday? You aren't alone! In fact, so many people were trying to download the huge files at once that a lot of ISPs were having some major issues.
Sniff! Sniff! I smell failure. Tech failure. I smell — sniff, sniff — the picture fading at Kodak. BlackBerry fans ready to don black. Acer about to be broken. Motorola's cellphone business filled with static. Digg digging its own grave. Netflix jettisoning its DVD business from the streaming ship. While this picture is admittedly overly grim, I know a little about tech flameouts — I was part of two of them. One was as an owner/founder of E/Town, a one-time competitor with CNET, but which died from a number of ills on Valentine's Day 2001; another was as sports editor (a former life) for WOW!, Compuserve's ill-advised Prodigy-like online family service, in 1996. (More on Prodigy in a bit.) In the meantime, you could fill Arlington many times over with the number of companies that have flopped spectacularly, many way too soon. I'm not going to examine the whys, though one could easily fire off a half dozen common causes for tech company collapses: over-expansion too soon misguided "improvements" or changes founder CEOs ill-equipped to manage a large company an established company unable to adapt to new technologies or too big to compete with agile new competitors a product produced either before its time or too late the loss of a charismatic founder Here are some sad stories of a few of my own "favorite" — used bittersweet — tech flops whose demises I've covered in the past.