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How 'Powerful' Companies & Brands Are Vanishing At A Faster Rate

Sutanu Guru takes a close look at how disruption is causing major havoc in the corporate world in recent years

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Most people I know have used the Blackberry during the past decade. My last one died a peaceful death in early 2014 after five years of intensive use. Since then, I have resisted the temptation to buy one more. So it was with a tinge f regret one read news accounts last night and today that Blackberry will stop making handsets. For a generation, the Blackberry was an ubiquitous part of life, particularly for the high and mighty. No surprise that when the scandal over Hillary Clinton making allegedly illegal use of servers for official mails surfaced, her Blackberry played a prominent role. The end of Blackberry marks another milestone in the saga of rapid corporate and brand demises in this age of disruption.

For Indians, Nokia was an even more part of life than the Blackberry. During the first decade of the 21st century, brand Nokia had become almost generic for mobile handsets in the country. This author had written a story for a business magazine (now dead) analyzing how Nokia had managed to grab a 70 per cent market share in the rapidly growing mobile handset in India. In that article, the author had wondered if Nokia could hold on to market share beyond another five years. AS we all know, the iconic Nokia was acquired by Microsoft and is now dead and buried even after a re incarnation as Lumia.

So is Motorola. Once one of the most powerful companies and names in the mobile technology business, Motorola too is no more. At one time during the 1990s, Motorola reflected American technological and marketing prowess. It has since long been replaced by new superstars like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Uber. Of course, there are clear indications that Twitter is a troubled company and is up for sale. Revenue growth is no longer happening as fast as one expected in this 10 year old company. Nor is it able to add new users at a rate that can match Facebook and Uber. Don’t be surprised if Twitter joins the list of victims of disruption.

Companies falling by the wayside is inevitable in any kind of capitalism. Dozens of once proud and powerful ones have fallen by the way side. Pan Am was once the gold standard in the global aviation industry. Westinghouse was once the undisputed king of the consumer durables market in the United States. Both have disappeared since long. There are dozens of such examples. As disruption hits the Indian economy with increasing ferocity, there is little doubt that the story will be repeated in India. In fact, ever since liberal policies opened up India to global competition in 1991, many powerful companies have either disappeared or become also rans.

But this decade will perhaps the biggest culling of companies and brands ever witnessed in Indian economic history. That should not be a cause for worry as long as new companies and brands keep emerging.

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blackberry motorola nokia google twitter