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While the Itanium partnership with Intel surely started HP down the road to hell, it was accelerated in 2001 when HP, under the guidance of CEO Carly Fiorina decided to merge with Compaq in a $25 billion dollar deal.Many large shareholders opposed the merger, including Walter Hewlett, the company's outspoken director and son of the company's co-founder, who engaged in a proxy battle in an attempt to prevent it. The prime objection was that Compaq had many overlapping product lines and would get the company involved in the low-margin PC business that its main competitor, IBM, was already in the process of exiting.Under Carly Fiorina's reign, the merged "New" HP lost half of its market value and the company incurred heavy job losses. Fiorina stepped down in 2005.Since the Compaq merger, HP has endured numerous problems with failed initiatives, dubious acquisitions (3COM, EDS) and has been plagued with ineffective management, including two major ethics scandals that have forced Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and CEO Mark Hurd to resign.The PC business that HP gained from the Compaq merger is now in the process of being spun off, after losing money in the face of tremendous low-margin industry competition.
Mention the name "Windows Vista" in most circles, you'll probably get a mixture of reactions. Groans, snickers, and utter disgust.Windows XP wasn’t supposed to last as long as it did. As soon as XP shipped in 2001, work got under way for the next version, code-named “Longhorn.” The feature list got bigger and more ambitious as time went on, and Longhorn was shown off with great fanfare at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in 2003.Those plans were tossed aside completely in August 2004, with what later became infamous as the “Longhorn reset.” In September 2005, Windows boss Jim Allchin publicly acknowledged the do-over, acknowledging that Longhorn had been “crashing into the ground.”The design goals of what was eventually named Windows Vista were admirable: improve Windows' security model, introduce widespread 64-bit technology into the desktop OS, improve networking performance, refine the user interface, and better integrate search capabilities. Unfortunately, the unwieldy and disorganized project took more than five years to deliver unsatisfactory results.Windows Vista was released to manufacturing in November 2006, with a consumer debut in January 2007. Vista got mostly negative reviews, thanks to significantly higher resource requirements, incompatibilities with some popular hardware and software programs, and a controversial security feature called User Account Control (UAC) that was derided as overly intrusive. Service Packs would later resolve many of Vista's issues, but its reputation as a slow, buggy failure was sealed.Eventually, the technologies that were created for Windows Vista were refined and re-engineered. Vista’s successor, Windows 7, was released a little less than three years after Vista's introduction to much better reviews.Nobody knows how much the Vista debacle really cost Microsoft, but it damaged the company's reputation and almost certainly amounted to billions of dollars of stalled upgrades and a significant exodus of users to Apple’s Mac platform.
In 1985, Apple Computer was in the midst of a technology transition. In the previous year, the company had just launched its first Macintosh computer, which had replaced the Apple ][ and Apple III line it had been selling successfully for the last several years.Founder Steve Jobs had recruited former Pepsi-Cola executive John Sculley to act as Apple's CEO, in order to help grow the company. While Jobs was considered to be a charismatic and dynamic employee at Apple and at the Macintosh division which was under his direct leadership, he was also erratic, difficult to work with and temperamental, and it was beginning to put a strain on his relationship with his team members as well as on the Board of Directors of the company.Facing a sales slump due to overwhelming competition from companies like IBM and Compaq that were selling PCs and clones, Jobs' relationship with Sculley deteriorated which resulted in his ouster from the company he and Steve Wozniak founded.The 11-year period that Apple continued on without Steve Jobs is universally considered to be a major low point for the company. Without Jobs' vision and guidance, innovation slowed and Apple underwent several leadership changes. Revenue and stock valuation plummeted, the company was on the verge of financial oblivion, and by the mid 1990's the company was in desperate need for a replacement to the aging Macintosh OS.In 1996, Apple purchased Steve Jobs' NeXT, which would serve as the foundation for what would become OS X and later on the iOS which powers the iPhone and iPad. Gil Amelio, the current CEO, was ousted in 1997 in a boardroom coup and Steve Jobs returned as Chairman and CEO.Jobs would guide the company into the release of the iMac, the iPod, OSX and and x86-based Macs, and then later the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, ushering in a new golden age for Apple.